IN MY COLORADO HOME A Colorado Song

“In My Colorado Home” is a song first recorded by the Sons of the San Joaquin.  Those readers who are paying close attention to this point may object that the San Joaquin Valley is in California, and not Colorado – and that’s true.

The Sons of the San Joaquin are a trio consisting of brothers Jack and Joe Hannah and Joe’s son, Lon Hannah.  The Hannah family moved from Missouri to California’s Central Valley during the Great Depression.  Jack and Joe’s father became a fan of the Sons of the Pioneers in the 1930s, when that group was a trio made up of Roy Rogers, Tim Spencer and Bob Nolan, and he would often sing their songs at home.

Spanish Peaks, La Veta, Colorado

Spanish Peaks, La Veta, Colorado

Half a century later, in 1987, Lon Hannah thought it would be fitting to perform some of those old songs at a birthday celebration for his grandfather, and he enlisted the aid of his father and uncle for the performance.

Jack and Joe Hannah are interesting and talented men.  Both had played professional baseball for many years in the 1950s and early 1960s – Joe as a catcher in the Chicago Cubs organization and Jack as a pitcher for Milwaukee Braves’ farm teams.  When they retired from baseball, both became high school teachers and coaches, and Joe was also the high school music director.  They had performed together at local events for several years and were certainly prepared when Lon suggested the performance for their father.

The family trio was a great success and they soon began playing professionally.  Their success continued, and in 1992 Jack and Joe both took early retirement from teaching to become full-time musicians.  The following year, Lon, who was an elementary school teacher, took an extended leave of absence from his position and resigned soon thereafter.

The songs on their first four albums, which were released between 1990 and 1993, were almost all cover versions of songs that had been written and performed by the Sons of the Pioneers.  In 1995 they released an album called From Whence Came the Cowboy that contained mostly original songs written by Jack Hannah, either alone or with a co-writer.  Jack’s songs were featured on most of their later albums, and were good enough that he was named the Western Music Association’s Songwriter of the Year in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2011.

One of the songs on From Whence Came the Cowboy was “In My Colorado Home,” which Jack co-wrote with cowboy poet Darrell Arnold1.  It seems that the song may have been influenced by “Rock Me To Sleep in My Rocky Mountain Home,” which had been recorded in 1935 by the Sons of the Pioneers, but Arnold brings a legitimate tie-in to the State of Colorado.

Darrell Arnold was born and raised in the small town of La Veta in southern Colorado.  He studied Wildlife Biology in college, served four years in the Air Force and held a number of different jobs before he became a journalist in 1983.  In 1990, he started a publication called Cowboy Magazine, which was known as the “voice of the working ranch cowboy” until it ceased publication in 2008.  I believe that Mr. Arnold still lives in La Veta – which has a population of less than 800 – where he collects Social Security and still writes the occasional poem.

The Hannahs are also pretty much retired, but they still perform in California from time to time.  Here is the original version of “In My Colorado Home,” showing their wonderful harmonies:

Continue reading

COLORADO A Colorado Song

This post is about the song “Colorado,” by Paper Bird . . .  but before we get to that, let me talk a bit about my kids’ education.

In 1993, the summer before our son Michael began 4th Grade and our daughter Suzanne began 2nd Grade, our family moved to the mountains outside of Idaho Springs, in Clear Creek County, Colorado.  Clear Creek is small county, and over 70% of it lies within national forest and other public lands.  There were (and still are) fewer than 10,000 people living there, so the school system was rather small.  The whole county had four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school, with the middle school and the high school sharing a single building.

Carlson Elementary School, Idaho Springs

Carlson Elementary School, Idaho Springs

Our children attended Carlson Elementary School in Idaho Springs.  The principal was a gentleman named Kim Summeril.  His wife, Gayla, was a counselor for the school district, and their son, Caleb, was a student at Carlson.

Kim was one of those picking and singing kind of principals.  He would regularly bring his guitar to school and go to the different classrooms to sing songs with the students.  He was popular and Carlson seemed to be providing a good education, so we were disappointed when Kim left a couple of years later to accept a position paying a lot more money as a principal in neighboring Jefferson County, which has Colorado’s largest school district.

The children in the Eastern part of Clear Creek County attended King-Murphy Elementary School through 6th Grade, and then were bused to Idaho Springs when they began middle school.  Sarah Anderson was one of the girls from the King-Murphy region.  She was in the same class as Suzanne, and they both sang in the choir for several years.  Sarah had a beautiful voice, and the choir director always made sure she did some kind of solo at all the choir concerts.

Now let’s jump forward to early 2013.  Michael and Suzanne were grown and Cathy and I had moved down the mountain to Arvada nearly eight years earlier.  I was walking along the Ralston Creek Trail with Darcy, our new 3-month old puppy, when two people riding bikes passed us going in the opposite direction, and then turned around and stopped next to us.  One of them asked me, “Didn’t you used to be Lou Weltzer.”  I admitted that I still was, and as they removed their bike helmets and sunglasses I recognized Kim and Gayla Summeril.  I had not seen them for at least 10 years.

Paper Bird

Paper Bird

.

We talked for little while and asked about each others’ families.  They told me that Caleb was playing in a band called Paper Bird.  It seems that in the summer of 2006 Caleb had gone hiking with Sarah Anderson and two other friends, Paul DeHaven and Esme Patterson.  They were all musicians and had brought instruments along with them, so they began jamming on the streets of the ski town of Breckenridge, and somehow got a gig to play that night at a local coffee house. Continue reading

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH A Colorado Song

In an earlier post, I mentioned that a statute enacted more than a century ago designates “Where the Columbines Grow” as the official Colorado State Song, but in 2007 the Legislature adopted a Resolution naming John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” as an “official co-state song.”  Here, we will look at “Rocky Mountain High.”

John Denver

John Denver

John Denver, whose real name was Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., was born into a military family in Roswell, New Mexico, and moved frequently as he was growing up.  He studied architecture for a short time at Texas Tech University, but dropped out in 1963 and moved to Los Angeles to begin a career in music.  In 1965, he replaced Chad Mitchell in the Mitchell Trio (formerly the Chad Mitchell Trio) after Mitchell left to pursue a solo career.  That group disbanded in 1969 and Denver began his own solo career as a singer-songwriter.

He was a prolific songwriter, recording more than 200 of his original compositions, and recorded often.  Eight of his albums sold more than a million copies, and half a dozen others sold more than a half million.  His association with Colorado was not limited to taking his name from the state’s capital; he resided in Aspen from 1970 until he died in 1997, at the age of 53, in the crash of his personal experimental aircraft.

Denver’s most popular song was probably “Rocky Mountain High.”1, which was written

Cathedral Peak and Cathedral Lake, Aspen

Cathedral Peak and Cathedral Lake, Aspen

in August of 1971 and released as the title song of his 1972 album, Rocky Mountain High.  It soon became a Top 10 hit in both the United States and Canada (where the Rocky Mountains may also be found), but was especially popular in Colorado.  In 1974, by which time he was the most popular male performer in the United States, he was selected as poet laureate for Colorado.

By the late 1970s, John Denver seemingly became less interested in producing new music as his attention was focused on a variety of humanitarian and environmental issues.  He founded the non-profit Windstar Foundation in 1976 and the World Hunger Project in 1977.  He was appointed to the Commission on World and Domestic Hunger by President Jimmy Carter and he received the Presidential World Without Hunger Award from President Ronald Reagan.  In 1993, he was the first performer from outside the classical sphere to receive the Albert Schweitzer Music Award for humanitarian activity.  Denver was one of the first American pop artists to tour both the Soviet Union and Communist China in an effort to promote international cooperation and understanding.

One criticism leveled at Denver’s music was that his songs were often simplistic, sentimental and overly sweet. Continue reading

WHERE THE COLUMBINES GROW A Colorado Song

In considering songs about Colorado, it is important to remember § 24-80-909 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, which provides:

That certain song entitled “Where the Columbines Grow”, the words of which were written by A. J. Fynn and the music of which was composed by A. J. Fynn, is hereby adopted as the official state song of Colorado to be used on all appropriate occasions.

Columbines

Columbines

Accordingly, we have to discuss “Where the Columbines Grow.”  It is the law, and has been since 1915.

Now, I have lived in Colorado since the 1950s, and I have only heard this song performed perhaps half a dozen times.  That makes me wonder exactly what an “appropriate occasion” might be, though I am pretty sure this is one.  However, before considering the song, itself, we should look at columbines and their legal context – Specifically, §§ 24-80-905 through 908, which state:

24-80-905. Columbine:  The white and lavender columbine is hereby made and declared to be the state flower of the state of Colorado.
24-80-906. Duty to protect:  It is hereby declared to be the duty of all citizens of this state to protect the white and lavender Columbine Aquilegia, Caerulea, the state flower, from needless destruction or waste.
24-80-907. Limitation on picking state flower:  It is unlawful for any person to tear the state flower up by the roots when grown or growing upon any state, school, or other public lands or in any public highway or other public place or to pick or gather upon any such public lands or in any such public highway or place more than twenty-five stems, buds, or blossoms of such flower in any one day; and it is also unlawful for any person to pick or gather such flower upon private lands without the consent of the owner thereof first had or obtained.
24-80-908. Violation a misdemeanor – penalty:  Any person who violates any provision of section 24-80-907 is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than five nor more than fifty dollars.

The legislative history tells us that the lavender and white columbine was designated the state flower in 1899, but the provisions calling for its protection and criminalizing the picking of the columbine were not added until 1925.  It makes you wonder whether the intervening 26 years had been an time of floral vandalism making it necessary for the Legislature to take extreme measures.

This is not the time or the place to consider that issue.  We are talking about the state song, even though there is not yet a criminal penalty for failing to include it “on all appropriate occasions.”

The flower we usually think of as the “Colorado columbine” is a perennial that grows from seed, reaching a height of about 15 inches, and is found in mountain meadows or wooded areas (it prefers partial shade) in late Spring or early Summer.  In Colorado, the flower is usually blue or purple, but there are some 60 species of columbine that come in many colors.

Arthur John Fynn, a respected Colorado educator, certainly knew about the columbine.  He moved to Central City from New York in 1889, at the age of 32, and resided in the state until his death in 1930.  He wrote what became the lyrics of the first three verses of “Where the Columbines Grow” in 1909, and composed the music a year or two later. Continue reading

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL A Colorado Song

When I was attending college in Boulder, a friend of mine – a 21-year old reminiscing about her childhood long before in Colorado Springs – told me that when you look out at the scenery in Boulder you see the mountains; but when you look out in Colorado Springs you see the MOUNTAIN.  And if you climb the MOUNTAIN and look back, you see America the Beautiful – which just happens to be the second song in our Colorado Songs series,.

THE MOUNTAIN - Pikes Peak as seen from Colorado Springs

THE MOUNTAIN – Pikes Peak as seen from Colorado Springs

The MOUNTAIN, of course, is Pikes Peak, which rises to 14,115 feet above sea level.  Although it is only the 30th highest mountain in Colorado, it is more than 8,000 feet higher than Colorado Springs, which lies only 12 miles away.  It is higher than any point in the United States that lies East of its longitude, so it is an imposing and impressive sight.

Nevertheless, it is not difficult to get to its summit.  There is a steep, but fairly easy hiking trail; a paved auto road runs to the top; and there is a cog railroad.  It was a little more difficult back on July 22, 1893, when Katherine Lee Bates, an English professor from Wellesley College who spent several weeks one summer teaching at Colorado College, went to the top.  She described her ascent as follows:

One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pike’s Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.

While on the mountain, she began a poem in her notebook, writing, “O beautiful for halcyon skies . . .”  That is probably not exactly the way you remember the words, but they have changed a bit over the years.   Continue reading

COLORADO TRAIL A Colorado Song

From time to time, I have commented in these pages on songs that pertain to Colorado – songs like “Get Out of Denver” and “Colorado Christmas” and “On the Natural.”  As you know, there are hundreds of songs written and recorded about our state, and seemingly hundreds of people have compiled lists of the best or worst of those songs.  I have decided to join them, and spend the next several weeks looking at what I consider some of the quintessential Colorado Songs.  This post is the first installment, and I will begin with “Colorado Trail.”

Some of you may know the Colorado Trail as a 486 mile long hiking trail extending from Denver to Durango, at average elevation of over 10,000 feet; but that wasn’t completed

Major cattle trails

Major cattle trails

until 1987, and this song is much older.  It seems that the trail referred to in the song was a spur of the Great Western Trail that ran from near San Antonio, Texas to Ogallala, Nebraska, and which ran roughly parallel to the more famous Chisolm Trail.  The Colorado Trail was not well known or much used, but it extended all the way to Montana.  All of these trails were used to move cattle to towns located on major rail lines, and all fell into disuse as railroads expanded their service into cattle country. The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad (C.B.&Q.R.R.) essentially followed the Colorado Trail as it brought rail service to Greeley and Northeastern Colorado in 1887.

An interesting thing about this song is that its composers are usually listed as Carl Sandburg and Lee Hays.  Today, we think of Carl Sandburg as the biographer of Abraham Lincoln and the poet who gave us “Chicago” as the “hog butcher for the world.”  However, long before he ever published any book, Sandburg was a traveling salesman and political organizer who traveled across much of the country.  Somewhere around 1910, he acquired a guitar and found that he could attract larger crowds by singing folk songs in addition to reciting poetry and plying his wares. Continue reading

EMAIL FROM HANALEI

I don’t usually post something two days in a row because I don’t really have all that much interesting to say.  Yesterday, though, I posted some thoughts about a small part of a speech given by presidential candidate Donald Trump.  I am afraid that those thoughts were mostly negative and uncharitable.  After thinking about what Mr. Trump had said, together with some of the other things he has been reported to have said during the past few days, it has become apparent that he is suffering serious psychological problems, and is crying out for some sort of intervention.  While I am not in a position to help him, I would hope that someone in the Republican hierarchy can guide him to the treatment he needs.

What I can do has nothing to do with politics or psychosis.  I can print something that is more positive and uplifting.  Last night I received an email from slack key guitarist extraordinaire Doug McMaster and his wife Sandy.  If you are not currently on their mailing list, let me share that correspondence with you.  They have a good story to tell:

Doug and Sandy McMaster

Doug and Sandy McMaster

The Bigger Picture
Last week, as we were stopped at a crosswalk for our friend Dan to cross on his recumbent bike, suddenly we were jolted by someone hitting us full speed from behind.  We didn’t have any apparent injuries, the driver of the other car was also okay.  We followed procedure and a police officer took a report (just happened to be 50 feet ahead giving someone a ticket).

Later in the day, at the post office, one of the postal workers we know asked if we were okay.  She had been right behind the woman who hit us.  She said the woman never slowed down and never put on the brakes and actually bounced off the back of our vehicle.  Scary!  We suspect the driver was texting or something on her phone because when we went to her car to check on her, she was texting on her phone.
We were pondering why we needed to hear the story from our acquaintance at the post office, marveling at the ‘to the second’ timing the greater powers had to coordinate for us to have that encounter with her.  We didn’t need a witness as the other driver had admitted it was her error.
As we looked at the overall situation, we realized that if we hadn’t been there, stopped and taken the hit from the other driver, she would have run right over our friend Dan because he was directly in front in the crosswalk.  Another example of ‘perfect timing’ to achieve the goal of saving Dan’s life.
Vietnam took a serious toll on Dan, taking one of his legs, a lot of his eyesight and more injuries that affect  him every day.  A couple years ago, a man driving one of the lifted, big tired trucks ran over Dan and then backed up over him to see what he had run over.  Dan was in the hospital for a long time and survived to get back on his bike (a new one of course) and head out for a ride every day he can.  We see him most every day at breakfast, and always he has a smile and a good word to say.  He is our hero and inspiration.
We suspect that there is a tremendously important mission Dan is on in his life and he is watched over by a very special guardian angel or angels.  Despite our immediate dismay of being hit, we are very honored to have been in place to help those angels.
We love the mystery, magic, and awesome orchestration of greater powers and wisdom than what our small human minds can conceive… opening and stretching our perception… reminding us that there truly is always a bigger picture. And keeping us looking for what opportunities we are being presented to play a part in making the world a better place.
May your days be filled with blessings of aloha and opportunities to serve!
A hui hou,
Doug and Sandy
I would say the same – a hui hou – until we meet again.

SONG OF THE WEEK – GET OUT OF DENVER

Have you guys out in cyberspace heard of this guy Donald Trump?  If you haven’t, please count your blessings and continue your idyllic life.  If you have heard of him, you might have heard that he came to Colorado last Friday (July 29th) and gave speeches in Colorado Springs and Denver.

Since I am in Colorado, I happened to hear about three minutes of what I think was the Colorado Springs speech.  It was certainly an eventful three minutes.  First, he said the Colorado Springs Fire Department “doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing” because the Fire Marshal had indicated that he would enforce the Fire Code during Trump’s event.  Apparently, they don’t have fire codes where he comes from.  The comment was even more mean-spirited than it sounds, however, because only a few minutes earlier that same fire department had rescued him form a stuck elevator at a local resort.1

Then, he said he was no longer going to be “Mr. Nice Guy” and that he was ready to “take off the gloves.”  I am not sure, but apparently he wanted to make sure the material would not muffle his words when he cupped them around his mouth to yell bad names at Hillary Clinton across his imaginary playground.  Oh well, it probably doesn’t require much effort to remove the gloves from those little hands of his.

He mentioned that he had just finished an interview “with the local paper – you know the one I mean.”  Clearly, he could not remember the name of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Colorado Springs Gazette just minutes after he had spoken with its editors.

Next, he mentioned that retired USMC 4-star general John Allen was a “bad” and “failed general” because he would not support Trump.  Now, I have previously said that I do not condemn Trump as a evil draft dodger for his efforts to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War.  However, we must realize, and he should know, that he has no basis on which to judge a person like Gen. Allen who did choose to spend his career and risk his life in service to our country.  Donnie, if you read this, I dare you to step away from your podium and say those things to John Allen’s face, or to anyone who has served under him.

Following that, he criticized two American Muslims, Khzir and Ghazala Khan, whose son, an Army captain and recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was killed while serving in Iraq – first, because they did not support him; and also because Ghazala, who was unable to speak through her tears, simply stood beside her husband who spoke critically of Trump.  That action signaled to me that Donald Trump is as ethically and morally bankrupt as the businesses he has run into the ground and walked away from, leaving his creditors, suppliers and subcontractors to suffer the losses.

Finally, he said that Colorado is such an important state in this election that he will be back many times.  “You are going to be sick of seeing me,” he said.  I am not going to stand silently by in face of threats like that.  I stopped watching after hearing that remark and decide to write this to let Deceitful Donnie know that we are already sick of seeing him.  And I speak on behalf of every rational person in the state.  It is not merely coincidental that Bob Seger’s song, “Get Out of Denver” has kept turning up since Friday.

“Get Out of Denver” was the opening track of Seger’s 1974 album, Seven.  That was the first album he released with his Silver Bullet Band.  It had only limited commercial success, never even breaking into the top 200 albums on Billboard’s rankings, but it was well crafted and exuded the energy that the public seemed to appreciate much more on his Night Moves and Live Bullet LPs that came out two years later, in 1976.  “Get Out of Denver” was also included on Live Bullet.

I have not been able to find much information about this song, but I came across an old interview with Bob Seger that indicated it might more accurately be called “Get Out of Aspen.”  It seems that his band had been playing a club in Aspen that had a large cover charge and a two drink minimum.  Because of the cost to see a band that was only moderately popular at the time, the crowd was reduced to a couple of dozen people for the last few nights.  Seger was dissatisfied by the whole experience so he wrote this song – but he thought “Denver” sounded better than “Aspen” in the lyrics.  Of course, nothing in the lyrics matches that story, but I guess the sense of dissatisfaction is there.

He has also said that the song was written in about 15 minutes while his band was opening a series of shows for Bachman Turner Overdrive and was trying to come up with “powerhouse tunes the crowd would remember.”  He said the lyrics didn’t mean that much and he often changed them as he used this song to close his sets.

I like the Aspen story better.  I guess because I did attend a show at a club in
Aspen back in the 1970s.  I saw the New Riders of the Purple Sage at a place that was overpriced, overcrowded, and filled with some of the rudest fans I have ever seen.  I decided never to go back for another show as I “got out of Aspen.”

This has been sort of rambling, and I really don’t like spending too much time dealing with politics, so let me just quit now, and say:  Deceitful Donnie Trump, this one is dedicated to you and your kind:

Continue reading

SONG OF THE WEEK – ROCKET MAN

On this day in history:

July 20, 1969:  Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are the first humans to set foot on the the Moon.  This occurred during NASA’s Apollo 11 expedition, and I have previously written a little bit about that.

July 20, 1976:  NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft makes first soft landing on Mars.

July 20, 1969 (again):  Singer-songwriter Tom Rapp composes the song, “Rocket Man.”

July 20, 2016:  “Rocket Man” chosen as Song of the Week.
_________________________________________

Most people are familiar with Elton John’s song, “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be a Long, Long Time).”  That is not the song featured here.  This one came first, and apparently influenced the more famous hit by Elton John.  Bernie Taupin, John’s lyricist and co-writer, once responded to the suggestion, by an interviewer for Billboard magazine, that his “Rocket Man” was influenced by David Bowie’s “Space Odditiy” by saying:  “We didn’t steal that one from Bowie.  We stole it from another guy, called Tom Rapp.”

So, who is this guy called Tom Rapp.  If they have heard of him at all, a few people may recall that he was the moving force behind the late-1960s/early 1970’s avant garde psychedelic folk rock band, Pearls Before Swine.  And most remember that band only because its album covers featured allegorical paintings by the likes of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Pearls Before Swine was formed in Florida in 1965 by Tom Rapp and two of his high school buddies.  Tom had been interested in music since he was given his first guitar at the age of six.  His desire to write songs and perform was kindled when he first heard Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

That may not have been the first time that Dylan had crossed his path.  When Tom was eight years old and living in Minnesota, he had entered a talent contest in Rochester, MN, in which he played a ukelele and finished in third place.  The program listed another contestant who was a couple of years older – a boy named Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing, who came in fifth.  The contest was won by a little girl in a sequined suit who twirled a baton.

Pearls Before Swine made some interesting music, but never became popular enough to generate even a cult following.  One of the reasons may have been the name.  It seemed a bit smug to insinuate that the band’s musical pearls were being offered to the swine comprising the audience.  That type of smugness was reinforced by songs like “Miss Morse” on their first album in which an obscenity was repeatedly spelled out in Morse code, implicitly saying, “see how clever we are.”1.

The original band stayed for the first three albums, after which Rapp’s high school friends sought real jobs.  The later albums were the work of Rapp, his first wife and studio musicians.  The fourth album, which was the first that was basically a Tom Rapp solo, was called The Use of Ashes and released in 1970.  The album title was taken from one of his songs called “The Jeweler,” which tells of a man who knew the “use of ashes” as he worked into the night using them to polish old coins.  Although that song was not too popular at the time, it became a minor hit for the group The Mortal Coil some 20 years later.

The Use of Ashes also included “Rocket Man,” which Rapp was inspired to write after watching the first moon landing.  The song is based on a 1951 short story by Ray Bradbury, entitled “The Rocket Man.”  That story, like this song, is written from the point of view of a young boy whose astronaut father is killed by a solar flare.  Since it was the Sun which took the father’s life, the boy and his mother decide never to look upon the Sun again.  A good summary of the story can be read on thebestnotes.com.2.

By 1973, Tom Rapp had released three more albums as Pearls Before Swine and two (including a collection of demos, Familiar Songs, released by the record company without his approval or knowledge, which is actually one of the best collections of some of his most impressive songs.)  None of those enjoyed any more commercial success than had the earlier works, so Tom, like his high school buddies, dropped out of the music business.  Like most old rock and rollers, he went on to law school.3.

Rapp’s legal career was mainly focused on civil rights and employment discrimination cases, first in private practice in Philadelphia and then as a county attorney for Charlotte County, Florida.  That latter job was terminated in 2008, but he used his skills to sue the county for age discrimination.  The case was settled, and soon thereafter he retired to have more time to care for his second wife, who was in failing health.

The version of “Rocket Man” here is not the original one from The Use of Ashes.  Instead, it seems to be a remastered version of the one found on Familiar Songs.

Continue reading

SONG OF THE WEEK – WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?

Sometimes the Song of the Week is one that is a bit obscure, one that not everyone may know.  Sometimes it is a popular song from long ago – say, back in the ’60s.  This week is different.  This week’s song was written in 2013, and it has been viewed on YouTube more than 600 MILLION times since then.

So, why was “What Does the Fox Say?” chosen for this honor?  Because it seems that it is currently the favorite song of my grandson, Ryder, who is 2-1/2 years old.  His 8-month old sister, Leila, seems to like it, too (but she doesn’t talk yet).

The song was written as a “teaser” for a Norwegian television show featuring a comedy duo called “Ylvis” (“I kveld med Ylvis  – or, as we English speakers would rather say, “Tonight With Ylvis.”) and posted on YouTube, where it immediately went viral.

It really doesn’t require much explanation.  The song starts by telling us that the “Dog goes ‘woof’/Cat goes ‘meow’/Bird goes ‘tweet’/ And mouse goes ‘squeak.'”  Other animals sounds are noted, leading to the ultimate question which is, “What Does the Fox Say?”.

It sounds like the lyrics were stolen from a children’s book, but the book actually came later.  The book was published in December of 2013, about three months after the song was released.  It was an obvious marketing ploy to take advantage of the viral video, but the book is still in the Top 100 in the children’s poetry category on Amazon, and it is one of Ryder’s favorite stories.

Without any further ado, let us get to the song.  “What Does the Fox Say?”

By the way, I sort of identify with the old guy sitting in the chair and reading to the child during the dance scene on the video.

Also be aware that at the very end of the video we do learn what the fox says, but everyone is too wrapped up in the song to notice.

Continue reading