What is the singer-songwriter? It seems they’ve been around forever. Hank Williams was one, so were Robert Johnson, Buddy Holly, Dolly Parton and Chuck Berry. But however you date or define the category, there is no doubt that the late 1960s and early 1970s saw a flowering of writers who wanted to sing their own songs, and people who wanted to hear them do it.
Bob Dylan was not so much one of this group as a the predecessor of it. Many of the SiSos had started out in folk, been swept away by the invasion of British rock bands, and then formed their own groups in New York, Boston, Chicago, California or garages coast-to-coast.
In 1969 and 1970, aided by the concurrent rise of “underground” free-format radio stations, a group of SiSos making up a first wave, included Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, James Taylor and Leonard Cohen, made their first album or first splash. Of course, there were many more: Biff Rose, anyone? Cat Stevens, Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin, Carol King, Harry Nilsson, Richie Havens.
I love many of the great songs by these great SiSos, but Randy Newman’s 1972 album Sail Away is one of my favorites. It contains some of Newman’s most humorous songs (“Political Science,” “Burn On”), several searching dialogues with and about a Judeo-Christian God who can be cruel and inscrutable, and very occasionally beneficent. But the title song, “Sail Away,” goes to a haunting place that has rarely been touched in pop music, as per this 1972 review by Stephen Holden, it is
“an austere ballad that carries a lovely string arrangement over a rolling, recurrent piano motif. While the music gently soars, Newman describes the American dream of a promised land as it might have been presented to black Africa in slave running days, but also with the full knowledge of everything to follow.”
In America every man is free
To take care of his home and his family
You'll be as happy as a monkey in a monkey tree
You're all gonna be an American
Sail Away — Sail Away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay
The song isn’t mocking or ironic, it is curious. It doesn’t paint over history, it expresses an American sense of longing and disappointment, as Holden says.
The album is not hard to find. Here is the review:
The Spirit Within You
Is a spiritual life a necessary part of being a human being? Can you be a fully realized person without a belief in some sort of higher intelligence or being or order of force?
And if the above is true, what is the connection of the unseen, the ethereal with the physical universe? Is there a connection . . . in your brain?
On the way to self-driving cars, let's slow down for a moment and review . . .
SNARKY WEB LIST! (CAUTION!)
Here is a throwaway list such as appears every 12 seconds on the intertoob: All Fifty States Ranked by Winter Climate! How can you resist?
I include it here for its remarkably filagreed level of bitchiness. For example, here is Arizona, the second-best winter state, according to these brats.
Occasionally, retired Kroger business executives from Ohio and their Pilates-instructor second wives will accidentally move to Flagstaff and get very sad and angry when they realize the average winter temperature is somewhere in the 20s. But most of Arizona offers up that dry desert day heat (it was 88 in Phoenix last week) that is good for arthritis and any lingering guilt about leaving their first wives to deal with their delinquent teenage kids back in Indian Hill.
If you can't get enough:
[btw, Hawaii is best, Minnesota worst]
WHAT COULD GO WRONG? (self-driving cars division)
(arizona republic, 12/26/2016)
Woman found alive after nights stranded in forest
A Pennsylvania mother who trekked about 26 miles in snowy northern Arizona was found alive early Saturday after spending two nights in the forest while searching for help.
Karen Klein, 47, her husband and their 10-year-old son got stranded in the snow along a forest service road while trying to reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
State Route 67 is closed in the winter and the family's GPS system detoured them onto a forest service road, where their vehicle broke down.
FAFA is going to the Louisiana Book Festival in October, where we (I) will be presenting and signing.
The Facts in Back of Lily Torrence (2)
Biographer Axel Madsen says "unearthing the truth about [Stanwyck's] sexuality would remain impossible," but also notes "people would swear she was…Hollywood's biggest closeted lesbian." And most Hollywood historians admit there's something to rumors that Stanwyck's marriages to Frank Fay and Robert Taylor were studio-backed "lavender marriages" created to keep the closet sealed tight.
Click the button to find out how this fits into Lily
The Facts in Back of Lily Torrence (1)
In the picture here, Billy Wilder is glancing with shall we say curiosity at the rather large sallow man in a tweed jacket who happens to be Raymond Chandler. Today, they're both historic figures. When this pic was taken in 1943 they most certainly were not, and they were struggling to write a screenplay of the best-selling novel Double Indemnity. Their efforts would be rewarded with fame and riches as the movie became one of the prototypes and archetypes of film noir.
The story of their collaboration, celebrated in Hollywood lore, is also the kickoff of Lily Torrence.
Click the button to read more.
. . . a trick that never seems to fail
Colonel Korn stretched sluggishly. "We've got to reach a decision," he observed casually to Colonel Cathcart.
"We've got to reach a decision," Colonel Cathcart said to Yossarian. "And it's all your fault. Why did you have to go around twice? Why couldn't you drop your bombs the first time like all the others?"
"I would have missed the first time."
"It seems that this discussion is going around twice," Colonel Korn interrupted with a chuckle.
"But what are we going to do?" Colonel Cathcart exclaimed with distress. "The others are all waiting outside."
"Why don't we give him a medal?" Colonel Korn proposed.
"For going around twice? What can we give him a medal for?"
"For going around twice," Colonel Korn answered with a reflective, self-satisfied smile. "After all, I suppose it did take a lot of courage to go over that target a second time with no other planes around to divert the antiaircraft fire. And he did hit the bridge. You know, that might be the answer—to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of . That's a trick that never seems to fail."
(Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, a book of cynical humor for all ages.)
EXCERPT: A LINE IN THE SAND
He grabbed his gym bag and looked in. His hand came out with money. He put a little packet of bills on the couch next to him. It was held together with a spring clip. He put another one on top of it. “Two.”
“You’ve got the stink of drug money all over you,” I said. I waved to Carissa at the other end of the pool. She seemed to look at me but did not move.
“Three,” he said.
I felt my legs tremble. Much as I wanted to leave, I could not move. I sat down on one of the lounges that faced the pool. I was no longer angry about being thought a whore, or afraid of being killed. I believed he really meant what he said. In his mind it was all perfectly ordered. He was buying purity. I am not Purity. “You still don’t get it. I don’t want anything you’ve got, cuz you are trouble. And I don’t want no more of it.”
Come Buy My Pretty Balloons—BOOKS!
Support Your Local Bookstore (5): Dark Carnival
"It's Bigger on the Inside!"
This Berkeley CA bookstore specializes in science fiction, fantasy, and mystery books. They have a huge selection, a knowledgeable staff and plenty of random plastic stuff to round out your bookstore experience. I plan to visit, at 3086 Claremont Ave, 94705, this weekend. But don't let that stop you . . .
Support Your Dublin Bookstore (4)
"Set in the very centre of Dublin this wonderful shop has both a large and high quality range. You can find near-all genres but the fiction section is very very abundant. It's a must-visit for any keen book-buyer as this store is all that's best in book buying also through the wonderful atmosphere created by the illusion that it might actually be a secret store." (bookstoreguide.org)