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MOTHER’s Day – Songs in Celebration of Mothers

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother figure in a family as well as motherhood itself.  Celebrated on different days in different parts of the world, in the US it is celebrated the 2nd Sunday of May.  The modern American holiday had its origins in response to the Civil War, with peace activist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe, the writer of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, urging in 1870 the creation of a “Mother’s Day For Peace” to promote peaceful solutions to disagreements and disputes so that husbands and sons would no longer be killed in wars. 

Anna Jarvis, another peace activist and suffragette, almost 40 years later in 1907 organized the first Mother’s Day service of worship and celebration at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, WV, which today serves as the International Mother’s Day Shrine.  In 1910 West Virginia was the first state to observe Mother’s Day, and a year later all states observed the day, some declaring it a state holiday.   In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

By the early 1920s Hallmark Cards among other companies started selling Mother’s Day cards.  Not surprising, Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of the day, and protested their commercialization of the holiday.  Regardless of her efforts, the holiday remains and flourishes, commercial or not.

Mother’s Day is the centerpiece of my blog this week – mothers, women from whom we were all born into this world.  Though not all mothers give birth.  Some are mother through adoption, fostering, or just serve as a mother figure.  But what is a mother figure?  Someone who nurtures us, cares for us, loves us, guides us, shaping our hearts, souls, and minds, often by placing our needs above hers.

Some famous mother quotes further suggest what embodies motherhood:

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

abraham lincoln

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” 

George washington

“When you look into your mother’s eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth.” 

mitch albom

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”

cardinal mermillod

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”

rudyard kipling

“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” 

Victor hugo

“The best place to cry is on a mother’s arms.”

jodi picoult

“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love, and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” 

Stevie wonder

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” 

Unknown

The Spotify playlist started as a word playlist of songs containing the words Mother and Mama, such as Paul Simon’s “Mother & Child Reunion,” The Rolling Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper,” John Lennon’s “Mother,” Pink Floyd’s “Mother,” Genesis’ “Mama,” Ozzy Ozbourne’s “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” Elton John’s “Mama Can’t Buy You Love,” Loggins & Messina’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not To Come,” Abba’s “Mamma Mia,” the Shirelles’ “Mama Said,”    But given the theme, the playlist evolved to so much more.

The beginning of the playlist is songs in celebration of mothers and their significance in our lives.  Many of the songs contain Mother, Mom, or Mama in the title, but several do not.  The first 20 songs are truly a celebration of what mothers are and can be.  Several of my favorite American Idol alums are featured, including Kellie Pickler, Crystal Bowersox, Carrie Underwood, and Lauren Alaina.  I’ll let the lyrics of some of these beautiful songs about mom do the talking:

What I Never Knew I Always Wanted – Carrie Underwood

Never was the kind to think about dressing in white
Wasn’t waiting on a prince to come riding into my life
Thought I was happy on my own
‘Til you came and proved me wrong

I finally found what I never knew I always wanted
I couldn’t see, I was blind ’til my eyes were opened
I didn’t know there was a hole
Something missing in my soul
‘Til you filled it up with your love, yeah
(Yeah, yeah)

Never pictured myself singing lullabies
Sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the night
In the quiet, in the dark
You’re stealing every bit of my heart with your daddy’s eyes
What a sweet surprise

And now I’m holdin’ what I never knew I always wanted
I couldn’t see; I was blind ’til my eyes were opened
I didn’t know there was a hole
Something missing in my soul
‘Til you filled it up, oh, with your love

Life has a way of showing you just what you need
And who you were made to be, yeah

The Mother – Brandi Carlisle

Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind
Tethered to another and you’re worried all the time
You always knew the melody but you never heard it rhyme

She’s fair and she is quiet, Lord, she doesn’t look like me
She made me love the morning, she’s a holiday at sea
The New York streets are as busy as they always used to be
But I am the mother of Evangeline

The first things that she took from me were selfishness and sleep
She broke a thousand heirlooms I was never meant to keep
She filled my life with color, cancelled plans and trashed my car
But none of that is ever who we are

Outside of my windows are the mountains and the snow
I hold you while you’re sleeping and I wish that I could go
All my rowdy friends around accomplishing their dreams
But I am the mother of Evangeline

They’ve still got their morning paper and their coffee and their time
They still enjoy their evenings with the skeptics and their wine
Oh but all the wonders I have seen I will see a second time
From inside of the ages through your eyes

You were not an accident where no one thought it through
The world has stood against us, made us mean to fight for you
And when we chose your name we knew that you’d fight the power, too

You’re nothing short of magical and beautiful to me
I would never hit the big time without you
So they can keep their treasure and their ties to the machine
Cause I am the mother of Evangeline

I Got You – Ciara

Hush little baby don’t you cry
Momma’s gonna love you all your life
And if you ever need a friend
Momma’s right there till the very end
And if you’re feeling down or weak
Momma’s gonna give you all the strength you need
There’s nothing in this world that I wouldn’t do
For my little Future ’cause I love you

It all can get so out of control sometimes
You can lose your faith, you can lose your mind
Lose your grip, get stripped of your pride
Till you don’t know how you’re gonna stay alive
And this world can throw you over the track sometimes
Your friends can stab you in the back
Sometimes you just break down
When this life tries to wreck you, I protect you yeah

I got your back, I got you
I take your side, I lay my life down for you
I’ll crawl over broken glass, I will stand in the flame
Take the bullet, take the blows, I would take all the pain
Anything, anything that you gotta get through
Hey, hey, I got you
Hey, hey, I got you

It all can push you over the edge sometimes
Make you wanna jump off the ledge sometimes
Make you wanna stand up and scream
Make you feel like there is no one listening
This world can put a hole in your soul sometimes
Put you at the end of your road
Sometimes you just break down
When this world tries to end you, I defend you yeah

I got your back, I got you
I take your side, I lay my life down for you
I’ll crawl over broken glass, I will stand in the flame
Take the bullet, take the blows, I would take all the pain
Anything, anything that you gotta get through
Hey, hey, I got you
Hey, hey, I got you
Hey, hey, I got you

I’ll be there to stop the bleeding
I’ll be there to start the healing
I will give you what you’re needing
I’ll be right there

Like My Mother Does – Lauren Alaina

People always say
I have a laugh
Like my mother does
Guess that makes sense

She taught me how to smile
When things get rough

I’ve got her spirit
She’s always got my back
When I look at her
I think, I want to be just like that

When I love I give it all I’ve got
Like my mother does
When I’m scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I’m weak and unpretty
I know I’m beautiful and strong
Because I see myself like my mother does
Like my mother does

I never met a stranger
I can talk to anyone
Like my mother does

I let my temper fly
And she can walk away
When she’s had enough

She sees everybody
For who they really are
I’m so thankful for her guidance
She helped me get this far

She’s a rock
She is grace
She’s an angel
She’s my heart and soul
She does it all

I hear people sayin’
I’m starting to look like my mother does

Somebody’s Hero – Jamie O’Neal

She’s never pulled anybody from a burning building
She’s never rocked Central Park to a half a million fans screaming out her name
She’s never hit a shot to win the game
She’s never left her footprints on the moon
She’s never made a solo hot air balloon ride around the world
No she’s just your everyday average girl (but)

She’s somebody’s hero
A hero to her baby with a skinned-up knee
A little kiss is all she needs
The keeper of the Cheerios
The voice that brings Snow White to life
Bedtime stories every night
And that smile lets her know
She’s somebody’s hero

She didn’t get a check every week like a nine-to-fiver
But she’s been a waiter and a cook and a taxi driver
For twenty years there at home
Until the day her girl was grown
Giving all her love to her was her life’s ambition
But now her baby’s movin’ on and she’ll soon be missin’ her
But not today
Those are tears of joy runnin’ down her face

She’s somebody’s hero
A hero to her daughter in her wedding dress
She gave her wings to leave the nest
It hurts to let her baby go down the aisle
She walks right by
Looks back into her mother’s eyes
And that smile lets her know
She’s somebody’s hero

Thirty years have flown right past
Her daughter’s starin’ at all the photographs
Of her mother
And she wishes she could be like that
Oh but she already is

She’s somebody’s hero
A hero to her mother in a rockin’ chair
She runs a brush through her silver hair
The envy of the nursing home
She drops by every afternoon
Feeds her mama with a spoon
And that smile lets her know
Her mother’s smile lets her know
She’s somebody’s hero

Mother Like Mine – The Band Perry

She’s the sky that holds the clouds
She’s the lady of the house
A blind believer in all I dare to be
There’s no safer place I’ve found
Than the shoulder of her white night gown
Oh I’ve got the best and the worst of her in me
And I’d share her if I could

So the wars would all be over
‘Cause she’d raise us all as friends
And no one would ever wonder if somebody wanted them
We’d walk on grass that’s greener
And our cares would all be freer
If the world had a mother like mine

She’s our father’s one great love
She’s the one he wanted most
She’s the light in the window of the house I grew up in
She takes the midnight call
She’s the bravest of us all
Still she sings in the garden she lets her hair down in

Oh the wars would all be over
‘Cause she’d raise us all as friends
And no one would ever wonder if somebody wanted them
Tonight would be easier
And our dreams would all be deeper
If the world had a mother like mine

Don’t go away
Don’t go away from me
Oh I understand
She is a helping hand
Still I have to say

She’s the sky that holds the clouds
She’s the lady of our house
We all need her
But no one more than me

Oh the wars would all be over
‘Cause she’d raise us all as friends
And no one would ever wonder if somebody wanted them
We’d walk on grass that’s greener
And the dishes would all be cleaner
If the world had a mother like mine

Mother – Sugarland

There are other songs that less pertain to motherhood itself, but instead reference mothers.  Some might not even include mother in their titles, such as The Miracles “Shop Around” – “my mama told me you gotta shop around…” or perhaps most famously Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody” – “Mama, just killed a man… Mama, life had just begun… Mama, oooh, didn’t mean to make you cry…”. Some songs lament a life unfulfilled by all that a mother could be.  While they can be so heart wrenching to listen to, I think they further highlight the importance of a loving, caring, nurturing mother in our lives, and the sadness and emptiness felt in the absence of such a figure to turn to and rely on.

Kellie Pickler has openly shared her heart and emotions related to the abandonment by her parents, splitting up a day after her 2nd birthday, her mom then disappearing, her dad often incarcerated.  Fortunately she had loving, caring grandparents who served as her surrogate mother and father.  I loved her for her story, her talent, her beauty, her personality, and for the woman she was becoming when she appeared on American Idol.  Her ability to move beyond her hurt, disappointment, and sense of abandonment and find purpose and let her talents shine has been inspiring.

Mother’s Day – Kellie Pickler

I try to sleep as long as I can
I pull the covers over my head
I pray that there’s some way
That life could skip a day to Monday

I try to count my blessings
It’s a long, long list
For a girl who has so much
There’s so much that I miss on days like this

I wish I could go to town, buy you a card
That says “I love you” inside a heart
And one that makes you laugh
Pick you flowers from our yard
You can set ’em in the window in a mason jar
Dad will take our photograph
One two three
Smile, say cheese
Oh I wish it could be that way
Every mother’s day

Maybe someday I will let go
But right now I’m still hanging on
Maybe one day God will bless me
With a daughter of my own
I’ll have love I’ve never known

She could go to town, buy me a card
Says “I love you” inside a heart
One that makes me laugh
She’ll pick me flowers from our yard
I’ll set ’em in the window in a mason jar
And dad will take our photograph
One two three
Smile, say cheese
Oh I wish it could be that way
Every mother’s day

One two three
Smile, say cheese
Oh I wish we could be that way
Every mother’s day

I Wonder – Kellie Pickler

On a more uplifting note, though I must admit I just cried while watching the video, as it is just so beautiful, Kellie’s winning freestyle performance with Derek Hough on the 16th season of Dancing with the Stars is just breathtaking:

And now on to the playlist. Consider sharing the playlist and this blog with the mothers in your life.

I’d like to honor and express my love and thanks to inspirational mother figures in my own life: my mom, Noreen, my wife Regina (the loving, caring mother of our children), my mother-in-law Carol, my sister-in-law Pam (who not only had abundant love for her biologic children, but also for her adoptive girls from Guatemala), my grandmothers Beatrice and Jean (Nonny), my great Aunt Kiki (a loving mother figure for my mom by brothers and me, and even my own children), my cousin Sheila (a fierce momma bear who takes great care of her cubs and grandcub, even amidst the pain and heartbreak of losing her own mother bear just a year ago), my friend Vicky (though more the age of an older sister to me, still an inspiring mother figure in my life), my friend Tammy (a single mom who has dedicated her life to caring for her boys, grandkids, and ailing parents, her father just passing, not to mention being an inspiration of faith to me and all she served in youth ministry), and Julie (from afar, loving, caring for, and supporting not only her children, but her husband Sean and his mission in Haiti and ministry, and having courage and grace in the face of the tragedy of multiple miscarriages, enduring and continuing on to bring 3 loving children into this world).

And if you missed my blog about my own mom, check out February 6th’s blog post “Seasons of Love – A Tribute to Mom on her 80th Birthday.”  On this Mother’s Day, please reach out to your mother, or those who have played a mothering role in your life.  Let them know how important they are to you, how much you appreciate them, care about them, and love them.  From one of my favorite Garth Brooks songs, “if tomorrow never comes will she know how much I love her?”

Reach out to those moms in your life, and let them know how you feel, how much you care, how much you love them. And if your mom, grandmother, or other mother figure has left this world, say a special prayer, while recalling the wonderful memories of times spent together.  If you have strained or estranged relationships, try to mend them as able.  If they are broken beyond repair, work on forgiveness or at least finding some semblance of peace and acceptance.

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment (and your “moms”)

Listen to the MUSIC!

From The Beginning – Great Acoustic Guitar Intro Songs

March 20, 1991 Eric Clapton’s 4 year old son, Conor, fell to his death thought an open window from the 53rd story of his mother’s New York City apartment.  Clapton was staying nearby in a hotel after taking his son to the circus the previous evening.  The tragedy inspired his song “Tears In Heaven.” As I have discussed previously, music can be therapeutic, helping process sadness, grief, and even death, as well as promote healing.  This touching song appears in my playlist “From The Beginning,” a playlist celebrating the best acoustic guitar intros in rock and pop.

Some of my favorites, my top 25, if you will, with just amazing guitar intros, in order of the playlist, not necessarily in order of greatness, include “From The Beginning,” “Suite Madame Blue,” “Little Guitars,” “Roundabout,” “Closer To The Heart,” “More Than Words,” “Dust In The Wind,” “Solsbury Hill,” “Time In A Bottle,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Crazy On You,” “Hitch A Ride,” “Here Comes The Sun,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Over The Hills And Far Away,” “More Than A Feeling,” “Hotel California,” “Stairway To Heaven,” “Operator,” “Romeo And Juliet,” “Night Moves,” and “Time In A Bottle.”

Some of the great rock guitarists on the list are Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and Eric Clapton, each with 4 songs on the playlist, Brad Delp (Boston), George Harrison (Beatles), Alex Lifeson (Rush) and Nancy Wilson (Heart).  Absent are a few high-profile guitar greats, including Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, and Stevie Ray Vaughn, as electric guitar was their axe of choice.  Some great folk guitarists/groups include James Taylor with 7 songs on the playlist, America, Jim Croce, Dan Fogelberg, and Cat Stevens, among others.

These intros aren’t rock solos or necessarily the most amazing or intricate guitar playing, though some are, but many are just icon intros to beloved songs.  And one song, “Going To California” is more about the melding of beautiful harmonies between Jimmy Page’s guitar and John Paul Jones’ mandolin.

Two songs that made the list but are absent from your listening pleasure are by Crosby, Stills & Nash.  They in coordination with Neil Young have removed much of their music from Spotify over concerns regarding COVID misinformation being shared on Joe Rogan’s podcasts.  Thus I’ve included YouTube video versions of the songs.  “Find The Cost Of Freedom” has a great folk guitar intro. The video gives a few glimpses of the Live Aid concert from 1985 that I have referenced in previous blogs.  The song additionally features beautiful harmonies.

And the same goes for “Helplessly Hoping”:

My uncle Joey, a lifelong musician, turned me on to Monte Mongomery.  He felt this was one of the best acoustic guitar performances he had ever heard.  After watching, I felt it was hard to argue with that:

While a great guitar intro song in its own right, Jack Black and Jimmy Fallon’s video cover Extreme’s song “More Than Words” is pretty ridiculous. Here’s a side by side comparison, though you can search either to watch on their own.  Just amazing:

Perhaps the best all time acoustic guitar performance from perhaps the most bad-ass woman on guitar, Nancy Wilson, performing with Heart “Crazy On You”:

Here Nancy breaks down the intro of the song, called “Silver Wheels”:

Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame, one of my favorite guitarists, and possibly one of the most underrated, here explains some of the intricacies of playing guitar.  For those interested in a genius’ approach to the guitar, give it a watch:

For those of you less familiar with his guitar work, here’s one of his signature acoustic songs, “Romeo And Juliet”, played on a dobro (metal resonator guitar):

Included twice on the playlist is “Hotel California.”  The first appearance is the original album cut, which has one of the greatest guitar intros in rock history.  But then if you can believe it they improved upon near perfection achieving sheer genius with Joe Walsh and Don Felder’s live flamenco style improvisation intro during their Hell Freezes Over Tour.  It’s not available on YouTube, though you can watch it if you buy the concert video, which is well worth the money.  The Eagles’ music is so great and harmonies so tight that they sound better than they did in the 70s, again if you can believe that.  It’s that great.

So continuing on with the flamenco theme from that version of Hotel California is the Gypsy Kings interpretation of the Disney classic “I’ve Got No Strings,” available on the compliation “Simply Mad About The Mouse.”  The recording has some other greats, including Harry Connick’s cover of “The Bare Necessities,” LL Cool J’s “Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf,” Soul II Soul’s “Kiss The Girl,” Michael Bolton’s “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, and “Billy Joel’s “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

My brother had a CD of Al Di Meola when I was in college.  He is an acoustic and electric jazz guitarist.  My favorite song on the disc was “Mediterranean Sundance.”  Here is a performance of the song by Di Meola along with flamenco great Paco De Lucia, and jazz guitarist great John McLaughlin, in likely the greatest collection of instrumental guitarists playing together ever:

A great influence for Paco de Lucia was a Spanish flamenco guitarist Agustin Castellon Campos, better known as Sabicas.  Born in Pamplona, where the running of the bulls takes place, he was exiled to Mexico in 1936 during the Spanish civil war.  He was eventually regarded as one of the premier flamenco guitarists in the world. Here is a video of Sabicas performing “Malaguena”:

And yet another offering, with “Fantasia”:

When in college I spent a semester in Granada, Spain.  I developed an increasing love of flamenco guitar in particular, and acoustic guitar, in general.  Trying to immerse myself in Spanish culture, I sought out activities with the Spaniards rather than just hanging out with my Dartmouth classmates.  While I still enjoyed drinking a 65 cent beer that came with free tapas, paella my favorite, if you were lucky, I wanted to chat with the Spanish patrons, and find cultural activities with the locals.  That sometimes led me to the Albaicin and Sacromonte.

The Albaicin is the old Arab quarters of Granada, located on the hill across from the Alhambra, had a previous population of 30,000 inhabitants and housed 30 mosques.  When the Moors were vanquished from Spain in 1492, Granada their last stronghold, the mosques were razed and churches were built.  Luckily the mosques in Cordoba and Sevilla were saved.  The Albaicin, with its narrow cobblestone streets, bars, and terraces is still old word Spain.  The following song, much in the flamenco style, “Entre Dos Aguas” by El Chalo y El Lirola is sung from the Albaicin across from the Alhambra.  The “dos aguas” are the two rivers of Granada, the Daro and Genil.

Next to the Albaicin is Sacromonte, with its caves carved into the hillside, home of many gyspies.  There you can hear emanating from taverns and bars the music of Cante Jondo, or “deep song” is a vocal style in Spanish flamenco, an unspoiled form of Andalusian folk music.  Federico Garcia Lorca wrote “Poemas del Cante Jondo” in 1931.

The cante jondo approaches the rhythm of the birds and the natural music of the black poplar and the waves; it is simple in oldness and style. It is also a rare example of primitive song, the oldest of all Europe, where the ruins of history, the lyrical fragment eaten by the sand, appear live like the first morning of its life.  …It is the only song on our continent that has been conserved in its pure form, because of its composition and its style and the qualities it has in itself, the primitive songs of the oriental people.

Federico garcia lorca

One evening my professor took me to the outskirts of Granada for an evening of flamenco that was serving as a retirement of sorts for a local flamenco and cante jondo legend.  Before the performance I was privileged to share company with my professor and this flamenco star sipping cognac, a taste for which I had not yet acquired, while they smoked cigars, a taste I never acquired.  The music was deeply moving, a night I’ll never forget.

One day a decade and a half or so ago, while listening to a pop radio station, I heard a flamenco-ish instrumental song that was just fantastic.  I couldn’t believe it was on pop/rock radio.  It was “Diablo Rojo” by Rodrigo y Gabriela, a Mexican guitar duo who got their start in playing heavy metal in Mexico, then journeyed to Europe, settling in Dublin and developing their own acoustic style with roots in neuvo flamenco, rock, and metal.

I had the privilege of seeing them at a small music venue in New Hampshire on Cinco de Mayo.  They were spectacular, their guitar prowess undeniable.  When Gabriela percusses the guitar, it sounds like bass drums exploding in time with the rhythm of flamenco guitar and muted string melodies of Rodrigo – simply amazing.  All of their sound is created with just 2 acoustic guitars, with the guitar bodies providing all of the percussion – no drums allowed!  If you ever have the opportunity to see them, do so.  You won’t regret it.  Here they are performing “Diablo Rojo.”

And similar in styling, though a bit more etherial, is my favorite busker, Estas Tonne.  Born Stanislav Tonne in 1975 in the Ukraine, of German and Jewish descent, he moved to Israel, and eventually New York.  He now travels the world performing, often on city streets.  Here is the first song I ever heard him play, finding him on YouTube, “The Song Of The Golden Dragon”

And while I remember Roy Clark hosting the country variety show “Hee Haw” as a kid, I never know how accomplished a guitarist he was.  Here he is performing “Malaguena” on, of all shows, “The Odd Couple”:

Then there’s the Tommy Emmanuel, an Australian guitarist often hailed as one of the greatest acoustic guitarists of all time.  Known for his complex fingerstyle, here is his cover of “How Deep Is Your Love”:

And my son found Kent Nishimura, who plays a version fingerstyle acoustic guitar as well.  Give him a listen on his cover of the Chicago great “25 Or 6 To 4”:

Now circling back to the playlist – I’ve included some of these instrumentalists at the end of the the list.  While not acoustic guitar intro songs, their feel and the beauty of their acoustic style and artistry just seemed appropriate to be present.  So on to the playlist.  I’m certain you will find it one of my best, with each song fantastic in its own right, but additionally due to its amazing acoustic guitar intro.

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

Bottoms Up – Colonoscopy Rock & Pop Playlist in support of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  It is a topic near and dear to me having lost my maternal grandfather and and maternal great aunt to colon cancer.  Early detection through prevention and screening is proven to dramatically reduce fatalities from colorectal cancer.

Current recommendations have shifted to starting screening at 45.

New guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) state that all average-risk people aged 45 and above should begin screening for colorectal cancer. Lowering the recommended screening age from 50 to 45 will impact more than 20 million people between the ages of 45 and 49 years old. These guidelines will save lives with earlier screening.

The Affordable Care Act requires almost all private health insurance plans to cover USPSTF-recommended screening at no cost to patients. Unfortunately, many plans don’t have to comply until 2023.

Colorectal Cancer statistics:

  • 1 in 23 men will develop colon cancer in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 25 women will develop colon cancer in their lifetime.
  • Colon cancer is the 3rd most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women combined in the US.
  • Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the US, only exceeded by lung cancer.
  • In 2022 an estimated 151,030 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
  • In 2022 an estimated 52,580 people will die from colorectal cancer.
  • Young onset colorectal cancer is on the rise, with rates for people under 50 increasing 2.2% each year since 2007.
  • African Americans are 20% more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die of colorectal cancer.

Everyone worries about the prep being awful.  Miralax has revolutionized the prep, if you will, at least in terms of taste.  No more awful Go-Lytly (and what a misnomer, you don’t “go lightly”).  You still have to drink several quarts of fluids, but it can be water or add a clear flavoring.  And yes you still spend lots of time on the toilet, but hey, now that we have portable streaming devices, you can catch up on all those missed episodes of “Game Of Thrones” while on the throne!  And this past colonoscopy, I used a prep called Sutab.  It’s tablet based, and you just drink plain water.  It was very tolerable, even better than the Miralax prep.

Katie Couric’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Efforts

Katie Couric, world renowned American journalist, tragically lost her husband Jay to colorectal cancer in 1998, at the young age of 42.  She has since become a spokeswoman for colon cancer awareness.  She underwent colonoscopy on the air in March 2000.

Her continued efforts have inspired others to get screened as well, with data documenting an increase in the rate of colonoscopy associated with her efforts.

Further information on the importance of colorectal cancer screening is presented here by from my former work institution, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

The Walk to End Colon Cancer

To raise awareness and charitable contributions toward this worthy cause, consider being part of The Walk to End Colon Cancer, a family friendly, hope-filled fundraising event in 15 cities open to all ages. It includes a 5k walk and 1-mile turnaround to make it inclusive for all abilities. It’s a chance for anyone who’s been affected by colorectal cancer to come find strength and support, collectively.

Today’s support for early detection and research means more tomorrows with loved ones. Register, fundraise and join a nation of allies that are committed to seeing the end to colorectal cancer in our lifetime. Start a team, join a team, or walk as an individual – because tomorrow can’t wait. 
Register for a walk near you, here.
For more fundraising tips click here.
For more helpful resources and guides click here.

For more information on Colorectal Cancer and Screening

https://www.ccalliance.org

Bottoms Up! – Colonoscopy Spotify Music Playlist

And on to the music.  While in the waiting room, awaiting my date with an endoscope, I had the eureka moment of why not make a “colonoscopy” playlist, as I have made over 200 playlists already with various themes.

see my Spotify profile:

https://open.spotify.com/user/1283817947?si=367f2f51398d4677

I imagined the playlist featuring songs related to the clean out, being hungry, being scoped, and being relieved it’s over, all to bring a lighthearted humor to a task almost no one finds funny.  But I think you’ll agree, this playlist, when considering the theme it is relating to is, well, pretty humorous.  Not to mention just packed with great songs.  Below are some great videos of a variety of eras and genres that are worth a view, but if you want to skip straight to the music, you can access the playlist here:

And now for some great music videos of songs on the playlist for those interested:

The Moody Blues, before they headed down their psychedelic mood music path, sounding like mainstream 60s rock with “Go Now” (Miralax will make you do that) 🚽

And classic 70s fare from The Doobie Brothers with “It Keeps You Runnin’” (again, that Miralax) 🏃

And if Miralax doesn’t work, maybe Jackson Browne will help you get “The Load Out”💩. But maybe by doing so, and getting your colonoscopy, you’ll be able to “stay just a little bit longer…”

Whitesnake must have been early adopters of colonoscopy cleanouts as they proudly proclaim “Here I Go Again” 💩💩💩

And well, Lynyrd Skynyrd couldn’t miss what was going on, with “That Smell”👃💩

And even Trolls got in on the act with “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” 😈

And Creedence Clearwater Revival must have been GI docs, seeing that “Bad Moon Rising”😂

Or maybe it was Men At Work doing GI work “Down Under”

And Bill Withers knew that scope goes where there “Ain’t No Sunshine”☀️

But Poison tried to make the best of it with “Nothing But A Good Time”!

And is this really how the Beach Boys felt “Good Vibrations”?

And 5th Dimension knew where that scope was going, “Up Up And Away”🤪

And I’m glad U2 wasn’t my GI doc, as they “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” 🤔. Though on second thought perhaps they’re just the GI doc we want, finding no polyps or cancer.

And The Beatles when having their scoping just might have yelled “Help!” 🤣

But the Pretenders (and Kinks) took a no sympathy approach, just “Stop Your Sobbing” 😭 and get that colonoscopy done!

But the Pet Shop Boys wanted to know “What Have I Done To Deserve This”? 🤷‍♀️

And Fats Domino weighed in “Ain’t That A Shame”! 😩

And Queen lamented “Who Wants To Live Forever,” though the answer is most of us, well not forever, but at least a little longer, so get that colonoscopy! And if you haven’t seen it, give the movie “Highlander” a watch – a cult classic, with Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert. And among Freddy Mercury’s best with Queen one of the best pairings of movie and song.

And Howard Jones tried to look on the bright side, despite being scared, not stopping or faltering, so get that colonoscopy done and over with, as “Things Can Only Get Better”

Treating today as though it was
The last, the final show
Get to 60 and feel no regret
It may take a little time
A lonely path, an uphill climb
Success or failure will not alter it

And do you feel scared? I do
But I won’t stop and falter

And if we threw it all away
Things can only get better

And in the end 😂, when all is said and done, we can get, as Gene Autry did, “Back In The Saddle Again” 🐎

For those who missed the playlist link above, I’ve included it here as well. Wishing you an easy colonoscopy for those who looking for, as Poison sings, “nothing but a good time.” This music should assist in achieving a more enjoyable time, if not during your procedure, which you don’t remember anyway, due to the wonderful anesthesia, then at least before and after the procedure, and anytime, for that matter. You don’t need to be scoped to enjoy the music!

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

We Are The World – International City & Country Songs

On the heels of the 24th Winter Olympics closing ceremonies in Beijing, now with the unfolding tragedy in Eastern Europe, I felt compelled to feature this playlist this week in my music blog.  The playlist was originally titled “London Calling” highlighting songs with world cities and countries in their title or prominently featured in the song.  But in light of the current world state of affairs, I changed the name to “We Are The World” as the theme seemed to better highlight what I feel we need badly right now, perhaps more than ever:

There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

Among the best-selling singles of all time, “We Are The World” featured artists brought together to help support famine relief in Ethiopia included a virtual who’s who of anyone who was anyone in the rock and pop music scene of the 80s, in order of appearance: Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Al Jarreau, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Carnes, Bob Dylan, and Ray Charles.  Chorus members included Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Sheila E., Bob Geldof, Jackie, La Toya, Marlon, Randy and Tito Jackson, Waylon Jennings, Bette Midler, John Oates, Jeffrey Osborn, Smokey Robinson, members of The Pointer Sisters and Huey Lewis and the News.

These efforts were organized primarily by Bob Geldof, lead singer of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats.  He also starred as “Pink” in Pink Floyd’s 1982 film “Pink Floyd – The Wall,” organized the charity supergroup Band Aid, co-writing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, also among the best-selling singles of all time.  His efforts culminated in the concert I’ve mentioned on occasion in my weekly blog, as well as in my blog introduction – Live Aid ’86, simulcast from Wembley Stadium, London, and RFK Stadium in Philadelphia, the location I attended with my brothers and uncle.

Uncle Joey with brothers John & Bob, 6 am or so, awaiting Live Aid gate opening
Live Aid, our original seats, but early bird catches the worm – we moved up to floor seats near the stage 🤣

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but while the advent, rise, and prominence of the internet has unfortunately promoted much of our focus and attention to the media and a digital world and life, drawing us away from humanity, it also has the potential to make the world a much smaller place, allowing us to bring those of different countries, continents, cultures, races, religions, and beliefs into our homes and lives, breaking down barriers and helping us see our similarities rather than our differences.

On Facebook yesterday I saw a post about the Human Library. The Human Library is an international organization and movement that first started in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000.  It aims to address people’s prejudices by helping people talk to those they would not normally meet.  The organization uses a library analogy of lending people rather than books.  These people often have experienced prejudice, social exclusion, stigma, or other difficulties and challenges in life.  Participants can ask them questions so as to learn about the other person and also challenge their own prejudices.  It can help us break down barriers and gain care, concern and love for all those around us.  What a great initiative to restore our humanity.

Music has the ability to do this as well, to bring us to different genres, cultures, and perspectives.  The playlist include songs such as “Marrakesh Express,” “Katmandu,” “Kashmir,” “China Girl,” “Still In Saigon,” “Back In The U.S.S.R.,” “London Calling,” “Vienna,” “April In Paris,” “Mexcio,” “Kokomo,” “Panama,” and “Only A Dream In Rio” among others. I included some songs that, while not having a city or country in their title, prominently feature one in their lyrics, such as “In The Days Before Rock & Roll,” “La Isla Bonita,” “An American Dream,” and “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” I did NOT include song with country adjectives in their title, such as “Spanish Eyes,” “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” or “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.” Perhaps that’s a theme for a future playlist!

Billy Joel, just referenced above in “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant,” here with a song from his “Nylon Curtain” album, wrote of the horrors of going off to war in “Goodnight Saigon”:

Elton John’s video of his live cover in Moscow of The Beatles “Back In The U.S.S.R.” now has an eerie, surreal significance with what is going on in the Ukraine right now:

Madonna has seemed to embrace and celebrate foreign culture and history, here playing a young Evita Perron in “Evita” signing “Buenos Aires,” though sorry for the grainy video, the best that’s available on YouTube (rent and watch the movie for better quality – it’s definitely worth a view, for the story, the music, and Antonio Banderas and Madonna’s performances):

And then her exploring all that San Pedro has to offer in “La Isla Bonita”:

Coming full circle, after the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 inspired a 25th anniversary recording of “We Are The World” embodying the same enthusiasm, sense of purpose and generosity as the original recording 25 years earlier, joining together to help the people of Haiti.  This time assembling some of the top artists of the time, soloists including Justin Bieber, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Hudson, Josh Groban, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Miley Cyrus, Enrique Iglesias, Jamie Foxx, Wyclef Jean, Adam Levine, Pink, Usher, Celine Dion, Orianthi, Fergie, Nick Jonas, Lil Wayne, LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, with old-timers Tony Bennet, Barbra Streisand, Carlos Santana.  The chorus included the likes of El DeBarge, Brandy, Jeff Bridges, Zac Brown, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick Jr., John Legend, Julianne Hough, India Arie, Randy Jackson, Bobby McFerrin, Vin Diesel, Gladys Knight, Katharine McPhee, Jason Mraz, Jordin Sparks, Robin Thicke, Rob Thomas, Vince Vaghn, and Ann, Nancy, and Brian Wilson, among others.  It was quite the lineup.

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving
Oh, there’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day, just you and me

When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all
But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall
Well, well, well, well let us realize
Oh, that a change can only come
When we stand together as one

And there are people in this world who choose to follow a difficult path to make a difference in the lives of many people, people they don’t even know, and may outwardly seem to have nothing in common with, apart from the humanity they share.  One such person is my friend Sean Forrest, who had the compassion, vision, and courage to open a mission in Haiti, establishing an orphanage, a school, an elderly home, and a medical clinic, all to serve the poorest of the poor.

I had the privilege to spend a brief time at his mission with my daughter assisting his efforts in what little way we could.  It was an eye-opening and humbling experience.

If anyone is so inclined, and wishes to support Sean’s efforts in serving the poorest of the poor in Haiti, consider making a donation to this more than worthy cause, to reach out to others suffering in the world, in need of our compassion, love, and help.

So I hope this inspires some of you to get out of your comfort zone to find ways to care about those around you.  While not a city or country song, I chose to end the playlist with what seems a fitting entreaty by Diana Ross in “Reach Out And Touch”:

Reach out and touch
somebody’s hand,
make this world a better place
if you can.

I hope you embrace the challenge, and strive to make a difference in the world, bringing us all closer together, as well as enjoy the playlist.

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

New York State Of Mind – US City & State Songs

American bandleader Glenn Miller was the superstar of his era. From a modest start he became one of the best-selling artists of his time. 81 years ago this month he was awarded the the first gold record for his single “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”  Despite his wealth and fame, the attack on Pearl Harbor inspired him to join the U.S. armed forces where he supported the war effort through his music. His tragic disappearance over the English Channel on December 15, 1944, remains one of World War II’s unsolved mysteries. Over nearly a century his music has touched people and inspired musicians.

https://www.beachesofnormandy.com/articles/The_soundtrack_of_the_Greatest_Generation?id=6814c81f35

His “Chattanooga Choo Choo” lends to this week’s music blog theme, songs about US cities and states. 

Songs on the list either contain a city or state in their title, or featured prominently in their lyrics.  Songs range from “Sweet Home Alabama” to “Hotel California,” “Hollywood Nights,” “Midnight Train To Georgia,” “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Please Come To Boston,” “Carolina In My Mind”, “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Walking In Memphis,” “Graceland,” “El Paso,” of course “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” and the playlist’s title song “New York State Of Mind.”  There are some songs that don’t have a city or state in their title, but feature a city or state prominently in their lyrics, such as “Dancing In The Streets” (multiple: Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, WDC, Detroit), “Take It Easy” (Winslow, Arizona), “Rock ‘N Me” (Phoenix, Arizona, Tacoma, Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A.), “Rocky Mountain High” (Colorado), “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” (Chicago), “Dirty Water” and “Rock & Roll Band” (Boston), and “Deacon Blues” (Alabama), among others.

Some great videos of songs feature on the playlist include:

So the playlist opens with Martha Reeves & The Vandellas “Dancing In The Streets.”  While many artists have covered this classic song from the 60s, this version, released for the first time at the Live Aid Concert I attended in Philadelphia in 1986, is so quintessentially 80s:

Stepping back a decade, this song epitomizes southern California folk rock of the 70s.  Co-written by Eagles Glen Frey and roommate Jackson Browne, it was the Eagles first release.

The story behind the song is worth a read:

Continuing on in the mellow 70s with one of my favorite Billy Joel songs “You’re My Home.”  Billy was my first concert, and I’ve since seen him several times more, including a college tour as well as performing with Elton John.

And back to the 60s with The Mamas & The Papas signature song “California Dreamin’”:

And back to the 70s with one of the biggest hits of the decade, “Hotel California”:

This fan made video of “L.A. Woman” is a great insight into The Doors as well as the 60s and 70s:

And while the video is poor, it’s still worth a watch to see Johnny Carson at the helm of The Tonight Show in the early 70s introducing John Denver, singing “Rocky Mountain High,” such memories from my childhood:

And a bit better preserved performance of “Take Me Home, Country Roads”:

And bouncing to the 90s for one of my favorite city songs, Marc Cohn’s “Walking In Memphis”:

And I can’t pass up a chance to give props to one of my favorite American Idol alums, Crystal Bowersox.  I’ve seen her a few times, and she never disappoints.  Here is a “double shot” of Crystal:

Crystal reminds me of Bonnie Raitt, a blues rock goddess here singing “Angel From Montgomery”:

And while not the version included in the playlist, this cover of “Sweet Home Chicago” is pretty ridiculous, with rock and blues guitar royalty, including Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Hubert Sumlin, Robert Cray, and John Mayer:

Here is my Uncle Joey performing in San Diego with his band The Hip Replacements covering “Viva Las Vegas”:

And closing out the set is Billy Joel’s “New York State Of Mind,” doing his best to write a Ray Charles sort of lounge singer standard:

So let these songs take you around the country on a musical journey. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

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