Archive for December, 2014

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Where’s the REUNION?

December 27, 2014

I grew up with a steady diet of folk music as a child. The Smothers Brothers, John Denver, and The Kingston Trio got a lot of play time, and I enjoyed them very much. The number one act, though, for my folks was Peter, Paul and Mary. I can’t blame them, especially since my parents had the chance to see them live. I liked their sound and personality mix, too. They were fun to watch in concert.

When Mary Travers died in 2009, I started thinking about their music, and soon found myself faced with a musical puzzle regarding the discography. My parents had pretty much all of their albums on record except one. My uncle had made a cassette of this album for my Dad, but it stayed in the rack for some time. One Sunday, my dad put the  album on, and it was a far cry from the acoustic sound we knew. We only listened the one time, and there was only one track that stood out in my mind…an off-kilter love song that featured comedy effects after the bridge. But I could not remember the song’s name or the album.

It turns out I was thinking of the REUNION album, and the off-kilter track was called Ms. Rheingold. Okay, that solved one mystery of the puzzle. But try as I might, I couldn’t hear the song in full online. Amazon released the MP3 album, but only 30 second samples. Still, it was enough confirmation for me. The full song can be heard on YouTube, but the question remained as to why the jump from vinyl to download. So, I read the Amazon user comments, and was shocked to learn that Peter Yarrow said this was their worst album. It was way overdone, and didn’t showcase them the way they were used to.

I have to agree with Peter. The more I listen to the tracks, the more I get where he’s coming from. Like Ms. Rheingold…it’s a catchy melody, and I’m sure they had fun singing it, but just what type of song was it? Country, ragtime, or street corner jug band? The song loses its musical identity the further it goes, so by the time the comedy effects come in, it becomes a jarring mess. I don’t blame the trio, though. The album was a actually produced by someone more used to the world of rock and popular music than  folk, so he probably just didn’t get it. It really was a sad footnote of the trio’s legacy. From what I read, they never commercially came back despite the PBS tributes and specials, and the box sets. I take comfort in the fact that my Dad and Mary Travers have already had a much better REUNION in Heaven

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A Popular Expression I Can Do Without

December 11, 2014

Be warned, this is not my usual light entry. If you visit here wanting that, I recommend visiting the archives until next time.  Here goes: Have you noticed lately that when someone pours their heart out in relating a recent tragic or stressful event, the person they are talking to will answer “It is what it is.” with an almost dismissive attitude? I sure have, in fact, I heard it a lot this year during the tragic events that make me glad the year is almost over. And, truth be told, the next person who says it to me is going to get an ear full.

Ask yourself these questions next time you’re tempted to use this phrase: Would you use it with the surviving families of those killed by terrorists? Not me, I’d offer a shoulder to cry on. Would you say it to a family that lost irreplaceable memories and a roof over their heads in a fire? Again, not me. I’d be trying to find a way to help them. And what about those impacted by the justice system failing the families of those young people killed by those officers in Ferguson, New York, and Ohio? Would you have the guts to tell those families, their friends and the impacted communities that it is what it is? If you do, I suggest you sleep with one eye open, because someone will be looking for you, and it won’t be to say Merry Christmas.

We’re supposed to treat each other the way we want to be treated, and I believe that is how we’ll be judged in the end. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my Creator judge me with a callous “It is what it is, you’re going to Hell.” “It is what it is” has become, at least for me, code for “I don’t care enough about you to help you through your difficulty”. Frankly, it needs to stop.

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FOUR DIAMONDS Revisited

December 3, 2014

Looking over my stats, and which posts have the most hits, it never ceases to amaze me that my post on THE FOUR DIAMONDS is hands down the most popular. I’m amazed at how many of you were as deeply impacted as I was by this moving story. I only wish I could provide you all with updates or new info, but sadly, there’s nothing new to report. Disney STILL has this under lock and key, since they are too busy grooming new music acts, and raising park prices to care about a movie that inspires people. You could suggest online petitioning, but those routinely get ignored. So, things remain at a standstill.

Still, my invitation to all visitors to my blog still stands. Look around, comb the archives leave (appropriate) comments, suggest ideas that night make good reading. You are most welcome here.

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When Mr. Ludden Came to Town

December 1, 2014

Sorry it’s been a while, crazy few weeks. Anyway, by now many of you know there’s a new multi-state lottery game called MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRE’S CLUB, in which players will get a chance to appear on the game show, premiering in February.

That news jogged my memory about local lottery game shows, and my mind drifted back to the first one I remembered from the mid 1970’s, which aired on WCVB:  THE BIG MONEY SHOW.  BIG MONEY, as it was commonly known around here featured several games of chance, with a top prize of one million dollars on the line. I wanted to see what there was online about this gem. As good as search engines are, my search was a bust.

Oh, there were things I remembered, like the first theme having lyrics, and one of the games had models decked out in gowns embroidered with one letter in the word MONEY, who were called at random to move a certain number of steps down a staircase, with the bottom step having an increasing jackpot that would be shared by onstage players seated in the corresponding letter section.  But, that was it. It’s tough to get old.

I needed to know I didn’t dream this, and luckily, someone on Facebook from my area also remembered BIG MONEY, and added a couple of items I didn’t know. The first was that when the show began, they taped at Boston’s Wilbur theater, then moved to the WCVB studios. What blew my mind was that the legendary Allen Ludden was the original host. That’s right, Mr. PASSWORD would regularly fly out here from Hollywood to do BIG MONEY. How cool was that? Unfortunately, Allen couldn’t stay with the show….the commute proved to be too much, and Allen would spend the rest of his career on the West Coast. A local personality from the TV station took over for the rest of the run.

The moral of the story is if there’s something you remember, and Bing and Google won’t help, don’t assume you’re dreaming, or you’ve lost it. Odds are someone on the social networks will remember, too, and what a great conversation you’ll have!