“I Love the Music:” Rubber Soul

It seems there has always been music in my life. I’m not certain when my love for music actually began, but it had to have been in my infancy or perhaps even earlier. I have no doubt that my mother used to sing to me while I was in the womb. She had an incredible voice and loved to sing. She sang when she was happy and sang when she was sad. She sang when she did housework or hung the laundry to dry. My friends heard her singing around the house all the time and thought she sounded like an opera star. She always enjoyed singing along with the radio and her favorite record albums, but what I believe she enjoyed most was getting together with her 3 sisters at my grandma’s house and singing up a storm. Mom did have a beautiful voice, I can almost hear her now.

Sometimes, when we were driving in the car, she would turn off the music and we’d create our own. She’d lead my sister and I in rousing renditions of,”3 Little Fishes,” “High Hopes,” and “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” Our closer was usually “Git Along Little Doggies.” We had a blast! Yeah there was a lot of music going on in my young life.

There were several artist my mom listened to whose music I liked, Ritchie Valen’s ‘Donna’ was one of my all time favorites. Then in 1961 when I was 10, I heard a song on the radio that I really liked and wanted. It was the first time I actually wanted to buy a record. A few days later, as part of my birthday celebration, my mom took me to Savon Drug Store bought me very first single. You could call it an act of conceit but I just had to have that record, Big John” by Jimmy Dean, “Big Bad John.” My mom even let me play it on her stereo when we got home and it sounded great! And so it began.

Two years passed before I bought my next 45. Already the romantic, I bought a sappy little love song called “Hey Paula” by Paul & Paula, a song about finding true love, marriage and happily ever after. Yeah, I know, what can I say, except that I liked it. I guess I was a kind of sappy 12 year old. A few months later a song called “Blowing in the Wind” by some obscure singer/songwriter, named Bob Dylan caught my ear. On the ‘B’ side was “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.” It was another “had to have” single. At the time I didn’t realize the impact music would have on me and how it would influence my way of thinking.

In the fall of 1965, I was a 14 year old freshman in the budding stages of my musical journey. Much of my spare time was spent playing records or listening to the radio. My 45 collection was still growing but by then I was more into buying albums. There was just so much good music out there and new bands were popping up every day or so it seemed. It was a music explosion! The big music news that fall was the release of a new Beatles album ‘Rubber Soul’. In less than a week the record would hit the stores and the word was that the album was better than anything they’d done before, a real departure from their normal Beatle, yeah, yeah, yeah stuff.

At that point in history I was not a big Beatles fan, oh there were a handful of tunes that I liked and I owned a couple of their albums ‘With the Beatles’ and ‘Beatles For Sale’ but the whole Beatlemania thing was a bit too cutesy for me. Four mop-tops with their matching suits and boots. Really? They just didn’t impress me that much, I thought their popularity was way overblown. I was more interested in some of the other English rock bands that made their way to America in 1964’s British Invasion, groups like the Rolling Stones, the Who, Animals, Kinks and Yardirds. They weren’t nearly as polished as the Beatles, they were raw and unconventional which made them much more exciting. But the ‘Rubber Soul hype had peaked my interest. Something about the title maybe. It sort of got in my head. For whatever reasons I was looking forward to giving it a listen, a thoughtful listen.

A few days after it’s release a die hard Beatles fan, friend of mine, brought the new album over to the house so we could give it a listen. The rest is history. ‘Rubber Soul’ was incredible! I was blown away! The album was everything I’d heard it would be and more! Until then, the music business was about one thing and one thing only, churning out hit singles that could be played on the radio. Albums were nothing more than some of these hit singles and an assortment of fillers. ‘Rubber Soul” changed all that.

‘RS’ was the Beatles 6th studio album and is often recognized as one of the first true concept albums. It was the first album that the Beatles recorded themselves. The recording of ‘RS’ was a remarkable learning experience for the Beatles and a preview of things to come. They basically took over the studio on ‘RS’ and took control of every aspect of the recording including the album cover. They were able to take their time with this one and were more precise on instrumentation, vocals and harmonies than ever before. The resulting album was incredible and offered us a journey into the heart and soul of the Beatles, and a preview of what was yet to come.

I’ve enjoyed a lot of music since that first thoughtful listening of ‘Rubber Soul’ all those years ago, it still remains one of my favorite Beatles albums. ‘Rubber Soul’, and the much acclaimed ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ by Bob Dylan released earlier that same year, not only offered incredible musical quality, but thought-provoking lyrics as well. Both changed the way I listened to music for the rest of my life. It’s all about the music and as I said before,   I love the music.

 

“The Magic’s in the Music and the Music’s in Me”                                                                                                                                         Lovin’ Spoonful

 

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Throwback Thursday: “It Is What It Is or Is It?” 2012

The American language is riddled with catch phrases and cliches, they’re everywhere. You hear them, read them and perhaps even use them yourself. Things like “Only time will tell,” “Old as the hills,” “Cat got your tongue?” and “The writings on the wall.” Then there’s my favorites, “What goes around comes around,” “We’re not laughing at you, were laughing with you,” and “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.” I’ve used that one on more than one occasion.

Then there are all the overused catchphrases, most born from old TV shows, commercials or movie, such as, “I’ll be back,” “What chu talkin’ bout Willis?” “Beam me up Scottie,” “Book em Danno!” and one of’ my all time favorites “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” I think just about everyone is guilty of using these phrases and cliches once in awhile. Call it a lack of originality, creativity or just plain laziness, or could it be that we use them because they work well in particular situation? Duh!  Whatever the reason, cliches are alive and well in the USA.

There are just some cliches that work well. One such cliche is “It is what it is.” Five little words that are a simple statement of fact. Five words that say acceptance, “this is the way it is, so we have to accept it.” You can’t change the spots on a leopard you know. Wait isn’t that another cliche?  I think “It is what it is,” is simply a reminder that no matter how we feel about a particular person’s situation or actions, what we discuss, isn’t going to change things. It kind of like K.I.S.S.(keep it simple stupid) what I mean is, because we cannot effect a change on the situation we shouldn’t over-think or over-analyze it. We should simply accept it because “It is what it is.”

I have a close friend who is fond of using the phrase, “It is what it is,” when discussing some aspects of life or situation that is unalterable and must simply be accepted as is. Although a few years younger than myself, he is a very sensible individual and has proven to be wise beyond his years time and time again. (cliche) Through the years his counsel has been invaluable in helping me see all sides of an issue before passing judgement or making firm decisions. He’s a good friend.

I do have one small problem with the phrase “It is what it is.” It seems the years have made me a much more optimistic person than I used to be and for some time now I’ve been a true believer in change. Things change, circumstances change and yes, even people change. I’m living prove of that. Therefore, I believe the phrase “It is what it is” needs two words added to it, because no matter how unalterable or bleak a situation may seem, there is always the hope that things may change, maybe not today, next week or even next year, but perhaps someday. “It is what it is – for now”  not forever…

Just Saying…

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The Road to Religion: Here I Go Again

Well my friends it’s happened once more! After a two year hiatus I have returned to church! It seems my on again, off again relationship with the Catholic Church has begun anew. Actually I returned back in November of 2017. November is never easy for me as it is the month that my mom, dad and close friend passed away. In addition to the sense of loss I experience in the autumn, I was also in the midst of a life changing event, one of those curve ball life throws our way from time to time. Suffice it to say I was at a very low point in my life.

One Saturday afternoon  I was out running some errands, when quite by chance I ran into my cousin, Charles, a Catholic priest and the pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont. He was aware of what I was going through and we talked about it for awhile. When we were saying our goodbyes he told me that he was the celebrant for the 9 am mass the following day and invited me to attend. At that point, I had no intention of going to Sunday mass so I put him off  by saying something like, “Yeah, okay, sounds good, we’ll see what happens,” and went on about my day. It wasn’t until much later that evening that I thought about his invitation again.

Around 10 pm my oldest son called. It seems they’d lost their Sunday sitter and were in a real bind. They had business that had to be taken care and wanted to know if I could watch the boys. He wasn’t sure for how long it would be. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my grand kids, but the way I’d been feeling, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to watch them. Funny how the mind works, it was that exact moment that I thought of my earlier invitation to church and told my son, “well I had planned on going to church at nine so I’m not really sure.” My son quickly replied “Church! That’s great! I’ll bring the boys about 8:30 dressed for church then, yeah that works, what do you say?” What else could I say, I was going to church with my three grandsons 5, 8 and 11!

Our church adventure went well, much better than expected. I’d figured the two older boys would be fine, but the 5 year old is another story. He’s a very active child and therefore a potential problem. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Surprisingly, he sat quietly throughout the entire mass.  Of course his good behavior came at a price. I should have realized he was up to something. Apparently he’d found a pen on the floor when we first arrived and quietly entertained himself by drawing on his arm for most of the mass. Oh well, I guess it could have been worse.

I’ve got to tell you, it felt really good to be back at church. I was wholly aware of God’s presence and filled with a sense of inner peace I hadn’t felt in quite sometime. I’d almost forgotten what it felt like. I don’t want to forget ever again. I’ve been going to church every Sunday since.

Peace…

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