Category Archives: music

Goodnight Mr. Cohen and Thanks


Leonard Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 10, 2016).  A novelist, poet and songwriter.  A beautiful soul has passed ahead of us.  I’m sorry Bob Dylan but for the Nobel Prize for Literature, I would have thought of Leonard Cohen  ahead of you.

Here is a little tribute and remembrance post to this wonderful individual whose words and music can touch our hearts.  I decided not to post some obvious choices like “Suzanne” or “Hallelujah” as I expect they will be cropping up all over.  I had previously posted on two of my favorites “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Villanelle for Our Times”. So here are two more of his stellar songs as sung by two lovely songstress.

 

The Storytelling Singer


So Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2016.   An unusual and unexpected choice because this is the first time the award has been given to a songwriter.  That Bob Dylan is one of the most influential songwriters ever and that he deserves recognition as a poet is in my opinion without doubt.  However, some will criticize the decision.

American comedian Rob Delaney wrote on Twitter “Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature? What’s next, [former baseballer] Derek Jeter wins a Tony for his rice pilaf?”

But since, we are talking about songwriting as good literature, I thought I would share with you one of my favorites which also happens to have an earworm for me for the last few days.

I refer to the 1967 number one hit, “Ode to Billie Joe”, which won three Grammys for its singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry.  I was just 6 years old when I heard it for the first time and  I had not yet developed my understanding of nor a sense of my personal taste in music but even then I was hooked on this song.  I liked the very simple guitar and strings arrangement  but I was really fascinated with was the story that the song was telling and the way it was being told;  a story of tragedy and mystery being woven in with ordinary, even banal conversation in a very ordinary setting.  Interestingly, it has been reported that Bob Dylan did not think so highly of Bobbie Gentry’s writing style in that song and that he wrote “Clothes Line Saga” (recorded in 1967; released on the 1975 album The Basement Tapes) as a parody of that writing style.   He had originally titled his song as “Answer to Ode”.

Well, ex-cu-se me, Mr. Recently Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but I like the song and the way Bobbie Gentry wrote it.  Like any other fine literature, it engages, it draws one in, it tells a story about life, it affects us emotionally and it leaves us with as many questions as it answers.

Here without further ado is the work itself……..

It was the third of June,
another sleepy, dusty Delta day.
I was out choppin’ cotton
and my brother was balin’ hay.
And at dinner time we stopped,
and we walked back to the house to eat.
And mama hollered at the back door
“y’all remember to wipe your feet.”
And then she said she got some news this mornin’ from Choctaw Ridge
Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

Papa said to mama as he passed around the blackeyed peas,
“Well, Billy Joe never had a lick of sense,
pass the biscuits, please.”
“There’s five more acres in the lower forty I’ve got to plow.”
Mama said it was shame about Billy Joe, anyhow.
Seems like nothin’ ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge,
And now Billy Joe MacAllister’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

And brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billy Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show.
And wasn’t I talkin’ to him after church last Sunday night?
“I’ll have another piece of apple pie, you know it don’t seem right.
I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge,
And now you tell me Billy Joe’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.”

Mama said to me “Child, what’s happened to your appetite?
I’ve been cookin’ all morning and you haven’t touched a single bite.
That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today,
Said he’d be pleased to have dinner on Sunday. Oh, by the way,
He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge
And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin’ off the Tallahatchie Bridge.”

A year has come ‘n’ gone since we heard the news ’bout Billy Joe.
Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo.
There was a virus going ’round, papa caught it and he died last spring,
And now mama doesn’t seem to wanna do much of anything.
And me, I spend a lot of time pickin’ flowers up on Choctaw Ridge,
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

There!  Did you catch my earworm?

The Answer


It is strange how this post came about.  I had a few competing ideas for a post but decided I wanted to share a song here.  But then, there were a few new songs that I thought were “share-worthy”.  So how to narrow it down and pick one?

While I was still pondering my choices, I visited some blogs.  A couple of blogs had posts that made me remember a dark period in my life when I went through a life sapping depression or rather it reminded me of how I was able to escape its chains.

First, Beth posted a short quote by Eugene Kennedy about friendship and somehow it was a powerful trigger for memories of a dear friend whose unquestioning, non-judging, accepting, patient friendship was like a lifesaver that kept me from going under.

Then, I read the post by Caralyn, who has a wonderfully powerful and inspiring blog in which she shares about her journey through the “throes of anorexia”.  In this post, she openly answers the questions that many ask her – “How did I break free? How did I embrace recovery when I was so sick.”  Her answer was “It was God”.  She made the choice to begin her journey of recovery and asked God for His help and found that God gave her all  the strength and help she needed for that journey.  Well, that would be my answer too about how I recovered from shattered self worth and depression.

For these reasons, I would like to share with you this beautiful song “The Answer” by Corrine May.  I only recently heard this song.  Its melody is actually that of “Jupiter”by Gustav Holst from his Planets suite which is probably my all time favorite classical piece.  But the lyrics by Corrine May reflects what I have shared in this post and what I hold true to my own heart. (Incidentally, Corrine is from Singapore which is my part of the world – so go buy her music!)

Hope you enjoy it.

I believe You are the answer to every tear I’ve cried
I believe that You are with me,
My rising and my light. 

Give me strength when I am weary
Give me hope when I can’t see
Through the crosses I must carry
Lord, bind my heart to Thee

That when all my days are over
And all my chores are done,
I may see Your risen Glory
Forever where You are.

Bitter Searching for Commonwealth


Remembering Orlando……

Remembering Orlando, Paris, Brussels, Syria, Kenya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Boston, Oslo, Sandy Hill, Virginia Tech, Turkey, Oklahoma City, New York ……………….. so many.

Why so much hate?  Where is the love for brother man?  If we cannot at least respect each other, how can we hope for a better world for our children?

My tribute to those whose lives have been snatched away or shattered……. and my plea to the world……

Poem by F.R. Scott; song by Leonard Cohen.

May we rise, from bitter searching of the heart, to play a greater part that men may know commonwealth again.

Sage Squirrel Predictions


Dear Reader, I have always thought that I had special prophetic powers.  You know, like Nostradamus.  You don’t believe me?

I recently came across an old post that I made right here in the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel.  The post entitled “Have an Ox-picious Year” was written in 2009 and in it, the Lone Grey Squirrel gave predictions for the next 12 years according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

You can click on the link above to read the whole post but I just want to draw your attention to the prediction that I made for 2016.

2016 (Year of the Monkey) – After two terms under President Obama, the political mood swings and unfortunately a monkey is returned as President. In world news, U.N. observers will declare that there was wide-spread monkey business during elections in a South American banana republic.

Hmmmm……….. looking at the current Republican nominations race in the USA and the crazy televised debates amongst the candidates, one just has to think that we might be eerily close to seeing that prediction come true.  What do you think?

I know politics can be a very volatile and contentious topic and   it is not my intention to offend anyone.  However, I have to be true to my own beliefs and apparently after taking another one of those quizzes that float about on the internet and Facebook, I have been told by the Internet Gods that my beliefs are most closely aligned to Bernie Sanders.

So now that you know, allow me to share the following meme which would clearly appeal to anyone who thinks like Bernie Sanders.  Anyway, I think it is funny and possibly prophetic as well.  Hope you agree…..

last president

 

As an bonus feature (cause the squirrel is feeling generous), here is a tribute to the “Monkey Man” by the great Amy Winehouse.

 

 

Another Not Another World Cup Soccer Post


Be warned, this will be a long and wandering post as I am delirious from squirrel pox fever.  But I think you will like it if you make it to the end.  If you are short of time, just watch the videos.

Four years ago, the World Cup was in South Africa and in the midst of the frenzy of postings about the soccer matches on blogs, Facebook and Twitter , I, the Lone Grey Squirrel, boldly stood firm against the tide and posted about rugby in “Not Another World Cup Soccer Post“.

And so, this year, I have decided to do “Another Not Another World Cup Soccer Post”.   And so starts a great new tradition.

So what will this post be about?  Well, not rugby cause I did it the last time but suffice to say that England lost again to the New Zealand All Blacks; losing three out of three games.    So it’s not just soccer that England sucks at.

England sport lose

No, this time, the World Cup is in Brazil and though I have never been to the Land of Samba and Carnival, Brazil is very special to this squirrel.

One of the reasons is  “Brazil – where the nuts come from“.  That phrase which is music to a squirrel’s ears is actually a line from the farce, Charley’s Aunt which was written by Brandon Thomas and first performed in 1892. Some consider it one of the best farces ever written and it is built round the concept of an aristocratic English nobleman being persuaded by one of his University friends  to play the role of a rich aunt of that friend.  It is in that capacity that he identifies himself as Charley’s aunt from Brazil – where the nuts come from.

Jack Benny once played the strange looking aunt.
Jack Benny once played the strange looking aunt.

 

And these are the nuts that come from Brazil. Really.  Brazil nuts. Yum Yum.
And these are the nuts that come from Brazil. Really. Brazil nuts. Yum Yum.

 

Another reason I love Brazil is because of the movie of the same name by Terry Gilliam from 1985.  This dystopian satire rails against bureaucracy gone mad and made all powerful.    The movie is wonderfully crazy, romantic and tragic.  I recommend it.

In the scene I have included in the video below, the Government has issued a warrant for the arrest of one Mr. Archibald Tuttle for committing acts of terrorism against building plumbing and air ducts.  Unfortunately, while the arrest warrant was being printed, a fly falls into the printer and causes it to misprint the name as Archibald Buttle.    The video now takes you to the home of Archibald Buttle just before Christmas………

Haha.  I love it when the wife is asked to sign a receipt for her husband!  Wonderfully bureaucratic.

And did you hear that tune at the beginning of the video? That’s another reason I love Brazil…. the wonderful song called Aquarela de Brasil or Watercolours of Brazil which was written by Ary Barroso in 1939.  i love the infectious rhythm.

The  English lyrics are as follows:

Brazil
The Brazil that I knew
Where I wandered with you
Lives in my imagination.

Where the songs are passionate,
And a smile has flash in it,
And a kiss has art in it,
For you put your heart in it,
And so I dream of old Brazil

Where hearts were entertaining June,
We stood beneath an amber moon
And softly murmured “someday soon”
We kissed and clung together,
Then tomorrow was another day
The morning found me miles away
With still a million things to say

Now when twilight dims the sky above,
Recalling thrills of our love,
There’s one thing I’m certain of;
Return I will
To old Brazil.

Enjoy the song which was also the theme song for the movie, Brazil.