Category Archives: music

Flag Waving and Guitar Playing

I Pledge Allegiance
Are you patriotic? What does being patriotic mean to you?


Out on the porch, I fly the American flag on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. I usually forget about Flag Day on June 14th.

A couple of things have changed in patriotism since I was young in the 1960’s. When I was a teen, the anti-establishment segment of American society wore the clothing in the pattern of the American flag, sometimes made out of the actual flag. The more conservative elements of society railed against this flag-draping practice and called them unpatriotic.

Today, the most conservative people wear the flag-inspired clothing in my country. Hats, shirts, pants, socks, even shoes with the red, white, and blue plastered across it. Now this is a sign that you are a true patriot.

At Woodstock in 1969, Jimi Hendrix played The Star Spangled Banner on his crying guitar. This rendition of the patriotic song was labeled as shockingly unpatriotic. The more traditional people found the sad wailing of his guitar as being deeply critical of America.

This last Fourth of July, some guy on a Florida beach played The Star Spangled Banner on his electric guitar in a fashion similar to Jimi Hendrix. He gets arrested for disturbing the peace. Then he becomes  the darling for today’s more conservative crowd. The patriotic flag-wearing people of today applaud the music gleaned from the more radical past.

Both the dress code and the musical style have exchanged places on the political scale. In this case, patriotism is in the eye of the beholder.


I Blame My Mother for How I Feel About the Jews

The 78 record was spinning Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” on the record player. My friend and I just discovered this stash of 78’s in my basement and they were hilarious to us. We made fun of this old music not realizing the connection swing music had to our favorite music, rock and roll.

So “In the Mood” was playing and my mother came in and for some unknown reason started listing great historical and modern problems. She went thought a long list and finally she said, “Do you know who is behind all these problems?” Slight dramatic pause and then she said, “The Jews.”

Glenn Miller just started his loud horn work after a long period of hushed music as she said this. My friend and I laughed our heads off. The music was too funny, and my mother’s comment was so beyond absurd.

How could one group of people be the cause of all the bad stuff that ever happened on earth? Historically, the Jewish people were chased out of every country in the world, and if they were allowed to stay, they were treated like crap. The crap is never ending.

I learned young not to trust my mother’s ideas. She had some crazy ones. So my knee-jerk reaction was to swing (thanks Glenn) to the opposite viewpoint. I’ve been doing this all my life.

I am amazed and horrified by the anti-semetic protests happening in the world right now. Ethnic cleansing is abhorrent to most people, but exceptions are always made in the case of the Jews.

Being Christian is a rough road to travel in large parts of the world too. Killing Christians is also a justifiable act. All you secularists out there, don’t think that you are immune, you just might be on that list too. Where is this thing called civilized society? The dark ages are still with us.

My mother is dead, but the list is alive and well.

Writing Challenge: Silly Miley

Miley’s performance at the Video Music Awards did cross the line; it crossed the line into absolute boredom.

I saw nothing sexually interesting nor shocking with her performance. It warranted no censure, no viewership. Miley Cyrus and the media are pushing this silly performance as something of importance when it is bland. Sexy dancing is nothing new; I don’t think Miley makes the cut.

I like Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines song and video. The video is sexy and a little facetious which makes it interesting. The video does not take itself too seriously and seems to draw the viewers in on the joke. It’s a pop song just meant to entertain us this summer.

Miley looked like a 12-year-old girl in that ill-fitting, beige bikini. Her tongue reminded me of a lizard searching out a tasty bug. The foam finger suggested she take herself off the stage. Her dance moves looked foolish and poorly done.

I guess some men prefer 12-year-old girls. Yet I wonder how many men actually found her titillating on the VMA?

She wants to shake her innocent, Disney image and become a grown-up artist. Yet the only talent she tries for is to shock. Even in that, she didn’t succeed. Yawn . . .

Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

Summertime Blues

I vividly remember the first time I felt despair. It was during summer break from school when I was about 8 or 9 years old.

I was at home with my mother and grandmother, and they were cleaning the house. They didn’t ask me to help, in fact they must have wanted me out of the way. The radio was on and the Nat King Cole song “The Lazy, Hazy, Crazy, Days of Summer” came on.

I don’t know whether this prompted or accompanied my first known episode of despair. I felt more alone, useless, unhappy the longer I listened to that song. Conversely, the song was upbeat, happy, and carefree. Why this innocuous song and not some dreary Gregorian chant from Sunday mass? Or better yet, why not “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin? I always thought it was one of the most depressing songs out there. Albeit the “Cat’s in the Cradle” song came into being 10 years later, maybe my despair should have waited for a more appropriate musical accompaniment.

Every summer I recall this unexpected, intense feeling from the past. I guess I’m still trying to reconcile the trigger this pop song may have had to the feeling of the blues.

The First Time I Saw John Lennon

As I was walking by the living room, the television was turned on and I stopped dead in my tracks.  Four young British guys with long hair, bangs hanging down into their eyes, dressed in suits with no collars, playing fabulous music, caught my attention.  This was the first time I ever heard of or saw the Beatles.

I saw it on a five-minute news segment by Dwayne X. Riley on Detroit-area television in the early 1960’s.  His short news stories aired on TV right after another five-minute arts and crafts segment by Carol Duvall. I believe that the Riley segment was called something like, “Here’s Something New.”  On this day, the Beatles were the Something New.

I was seven or eight years old at the time and neither of these TV shows normally appealed to me.  But these four British guys hooked me and millions of other young people into a lifetime of rock and roll addiction.  It was an instant attraction that never wavered.  The Beatles were just past their teen years themselves, but seemed very mature to this elementary school kid.

Nearly 20 years later, I was once again stopped in my tracks with the death of 40-year old John Lennon in 1980.  I was newly married, but still young myself.  It was shocking, senseless and sad.

Many years later in 2001, George Harrison would die at the age of 58. “When I’m 64” was a milestone that only half the group members would make.

Now this December marks the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  This hardly seems real.  I was just walking by that TV when I saw him; young, attractive, with a lifetime of success in front of him. Time gave him half a lifetime.

“Well we all shine on,” John Lennon wrote in Instant Karma.  To me, his spark still burns bright.