“Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream (1967)

5 02 2017

Cream was a supergroup consisting of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce. All three are considered masters of their game.

Jack Bruce, the bassist, sings this song, and he’s one of my favorite bassists. Thought that you should know that, as a bassist in your own right.

But there’s another reason I’m posting this song for you. Bear with me.

There’s a lot of hate and division in the U.S. right now, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.

When I was a young man, I spent a summer in Israel. Israelis and Palestinians have been at each others’ throats for a long time. Well, mostly with the Israelis at the Palestinians’ throats.

While there, I spent two months on a kibbutz, which is a kind of collective, often a farming operation. I was a volunteer member of Kibbutz Rosh Haniqra, which mostly produced bananas. That’s right, your dad was a banana farmer in the Holy Land.

At this kibbutz, I jammed with a couple musicians. The bassist: me, with only limited Hebrew skills. The drummer: a Palestinian, who spoke Arabic and decent Hebrew, but no English. The guitarist: An Israeli Jew who spoke Hebrew, decent Arabic and English.

So we had no language in common, really. Except music.

After much linguistic confusion, we settled on this song, and the drummer counted us off.

For the first time, it wasn’t too bad. We kind of clicked. Even if sloppy and unrehearsed, you can still tell when you’re in sync with the other musicians.

And the three of us–who have no common language–knew it. Even though we couldn’t really speak to each other, we were smiling, and we were digging it.

This song always reminds me of that tiny little blues/peace summit.





“The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” by Marianne Faithfull (1979)

8 01 2017

This amazing song was written by Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends). It’s a lament about the sad plight of a housewife trapped in a life that wasn’t enough for her.

Until recently, there weren’t many options for women. Getting married and raising a family was one of the main options. But think about all that wasted potential talent! We could have had six different cures for cancer and world peace by now, if we didn’t insist for so long that women should be “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” (yes, I’ve heard that many times).

Marianne Faithfull nails it with her husky, world-weary voice and plaintive delivery.

Things have really changed now, and women can pursue just about any job as a man.

But there is a holdover from the patriarchal, sexist past: there is still a ton of pressure on women to marry and produce children. There’s also a lingering perception that a woman is somehow not complete without experiencing motherhood.

Bullshit. Just because you have a uterus doesn’t mean you have to use it. Here’s a list of some women who didn’t have kids:

Jane Austen
Charlotte Bronte
Julia Child
Emily Dickinson
Harper Lee
Amelia Earhart
Georgia O’Keefe
Dorothy Parker

And on and on….

If you truly want to have children, that’s terrific. Many people do. But I’m telling you this because few others would. Your grandmother would tell you. You are the captain of your body in this area, too.

There is enormous pressure on us to do what we’ve been raised/conditioned by society to do. Often we’re not even aware of it, we just flow with it, like caught in a river current. Always check to see if your bearings aren’t effected by the current.

I just remembered that your middle name means “flow of the river.” We’ll have to find the Hindi word for “against” as a prefix to fix that.





“When the Rainbow Comes” by World Party (1990)

4 01 2017

This is the second World Party song I’ve posted, the other is “Ship of Fools,” so I won’t rehash my love for Karl Wallinger’s music.

This is another medicinal song. A sober song about hope. Or the struggle to find it. This song was released in a time I needed hope, so I know this song well.

It starts with an ideal:

“Build a new house down by the sea
Get to the place we were meant to be
You’ll know it when you smile.”

Of course most of us can’t do that. So if you can’t live by the sea, then what?

“Slippin’ and slidin’ around in your head
It’s be-bop-a-lula and baby you’re dead
So come on, make a bright new day.”

It’s never that easy, but just singing it out loud makes it seem just slightly more possible to make that bright new day.

“I need a prayer here
I need a blessing
Cast your eye back as you run
Turn around, boy!
See the rainbow come!”

I do believe there is something to the “power of positive thinking.” It’s just not that easy for some folks.

What’s easier is the power of positive singing. If things seem a tad dark, crank it up, belt it out. It might help.





“She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer (1983)

4 12 2016

Some call Donna Summer the “Queen of Disco,” which I thought was unfair. She was a cut above and really stood out, bringing soulfulness and tenacity to the dance beats.

Summer wrote these lyrics after meeting the restroom attendant in a fancy restaurant. The attendant, a young, exhausted-looking woman, was a single mother working multiple jobs to support her kids and herself. It’s an anthem of respect:

“I met her there in the corner stand
And she wonders where she is and
It’s strange to her
Some people seem to have everything”

Your grandmother was a single mother for a few years when I was very young. I don’t know how she held it all together. I don’t know how any single mother holds it all together. I don’t think I could do it.

So please know that your old man thinks single mothers are the fiercest of the fierce in our society. I have mad respect for them. And nothing but contempt for deadbeat fathers.





“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams (1949)

4 12 2016

Loneliness is awful. It’s different than just being alone.

Most people can be alone for awhile, but feeling alone is much more intense than merely being alone.

Humans are pack animals, we run in groups and clans. Long-term isolation can take its toll.

My suggestion is to make as many good friends as you can. People who know you. Who can make you laugh, but who also can see pain or worry in your eyes hidden behind that laughter.

Then make a real effort to stay in touch with these friends. And be there for them, so they will be there for you.

Then, perhaps, you won’t ever need to sing this song by the great Hank Williams:

“I’ve never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry”





“One Day” by Matisyahu (2009)

14 11 2016

My last post about the election was pretty apocalyptic. Apologies. Must be the funk I’m in.

That doesn’t discount the battle ahead, though. We will have to fight to keep what we have.

I’ve worked with a lot of tough people. Organizers, activists, musicians, writers. We have a lot going for us.

Hope is both required and justified.

This is a great song about hope. For us all. We need more anthems like this.

“All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day”





“Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads (1979)

14 11 2016

These “United States” of America have just elected Donald Trump.

I am so, so sorry, sweetheart. Rational people did their best to stop him. But he said what people wanted to hear, and he stoked division and fear.

He has no respect for women, or minorities, or the press, or the courts, or our taxation system, or anything but his own interests as far as anyone can tell.

And with both houses of Congress plus his own conservative appointment to the Supreme Court, this nation is doomed. And we’ll take the rest of the world down with us.

So, we fight. What else can we do?

Here’s one lesson: Young people HAVE to get to the polls and vote. I know you’re too young to vote now, but when you can vote, please do. And talk about it with your friends, encourage them to vote, too.

If young voters–who overwhelmingly favored Democrats–turned out for the election, we wouldn’t have Donald Trump as president. We wouldn’t have had George W. Bush, either. And Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, would probably have been the Democratic nominee, easily beating Trump. There were other factors, of course, but one thing you can do is vote and get involved. Or you end up with our own Il Duce.

This song came out when I was about your age. I remember listening to its ominous words about changing hairstyles “so many times now, I don’t know what I look like.” It’s about fighting in the resistance. Perhaps it was foreshadowing.

And you can dance to it!

“Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there”