Oct 17

Enjoy some pictures

Back to work today, but we’re kind of dragging after a long weekend. So there’s not a lot going on today, or maybe for much of the week, who knows. So here are some pictures of pictures.

We were out at this hipster restaurant in Louisville on Saturday evening. In the hallway there were several quality prints of old country music acts. Here’s one now:

Merle Haggard knew hard times. He was in and out of jails as a teen and finally a series of prison circumstances convinced him to turn his life around. And then he heard Johnny Cash perform at San Quentin. Haggard returned to music and launched a career that included more than three dozen number one hits. The Working Man passed away just last year.

The restaurant, I’m guessing, was named after him, too.

And here’s Ramona and Grandpa Jones:

They met at WLW, Cincinnati, in the 1940s and were married for 52 years. She was an acclaimed fiddler. He became a legend. They both starred on Hee Haw. Born Ramona Riggins, in Indiana, she remarried after Grandpa died in 1998. She played professionally for more than half a century and passed away in 2015, at 91.

And this is Johnny Cash:

That photo was taken in January 1968, the day he recorded his live record at Folsom Prison. The record was released that May and “At Folsom Prison” was, of course, a huge success and revitalized Cash’s career. It hit number one on the country charts and landed in the top 15 of the national album chart. It climbed to number seven on charts in both Norway and the U.K.

May 17

The Indigo Girls show

We went to a rock ‘n’ roll show tonight:


Which means there’s fuzzy video from a dark room, but the sound is pretty decent. Well, the performance was great; the recording of the sound was not bad. I’ve been listening to the Indigo Girls for more than 20 years now, and so have most of the people in the audience. We’re all aging together, people! Except for the young people. They are somehow not moving at all.

Anyway, this song is almost 30 years old and who knows how many times they have played it over the years, but Amy and Emily still put a lot of energy into it:

I think they’re singing the “time is not on my side” line with a bit more emphasis these days. Who isn’t, though, right?

Look! This song is only 20 years old and I have no idea how that happened!

While you play that, a little story. I don’t sing in front of people really at all. I sing a lot, in private. In public I’ll sing in church and that’s about it. I’d rather stand in front of hundreds or thousands of people and give a speech — hey, I have! — than sing in front of four people. It’s just a shy, privacy, thing.

When The Yankee and I had just started dating we sang this together on a road trip. And I always think about that when I hear that song, that part of the song, when the shy singer was trying to pretend to hit a note. Voice, just like anything else, can be a great vulnerability if you choose to see it that way, but there I was, sharing it out loud, on a supremely sunny springtime day somewhere in south Georgia. I still don’t sing around people. But I sing with her. (She sings Emily’s parts because I can’t.)

Yeah, it is a banjo and a mandolin, and yet the back half of that song is some of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll. It’d be pretty high up on a folk list, too.

Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll shows … The Yankee has seen the Indigo Girls something like nine times over the years and I’m at six, I believe. Chickenman is still crazy good:

You could get into whole essays on who, or what the Chickenman is. This is the Internet, of course people have launched into historical allusions, literary metaphors and references to Springsteen lines and 1960s radio programs and all manner of things. I met a Chickenman once. I’ll never not think it wasn’t The Chickenman.

(Aside: I felt a tiny bit let down that they didn’t do the Mountain Top medley.)

Isn’t it weird how things can become biographical, even if you didn’t consciously intend for that to happen? There was this one 12-mile stretch of road, an almost-home road, where I’d pop this in play it three good times before the drive was over.

Each of the three times I’d sing it differently. All were probably sung poorly, but they had feeling. A loud and noisy and jangly feeling. It makes for a good show.

Mar 17

I was not awake at 5 a.m.

A good singalong makes one happy:

Too-high, too-wide photo still to come.

I found this today:

Two young men hit by a train in 1917, both lived. And then I found this and this. One lived to 80 and had three kids. The other lived to 85 and had four children. And this quick look online tells me that a man who died at 85 in 1983, in my lifetime, knew his grandfather, who fought at Kennesaw and Nashville and against Hood in Georgia and Alabama. That man, in my lifetime, could probably recall his grandfather who fought in the Civil War on land I know fairly well.

So it is a small world, I guess. Though anything is possible if you start a story with “So this guy found himself crawling out from under an actual trainwreck.”

Today, Indiana fired their basketball coach. Just as the tournament begin, his tenure ended. He’d gone to the Sweet Sixteen last year, indeed, three of the last six years he’d been there, and he won the conference championship twice. But they decided to go a different way, so there was an announcement, and a press conference. And, despite this also being Spring Break, the student media was there:

Dedication, hustle and showing up will get you places in that business. So it is great to see students from both the television station and the newspaper reporting it at full speed. Good for them.

Feb 17

Dynamite with a laser beam

On Wednesday night we had a flat. And the spare was also flat. And the compressor was dead. (You don’t have a compressor? Every car should have a compressor. You never know when your spare is flat.) Anyway, a friend picked up The Yankee and she went to get my car and my compressor (every car should have a compressor) and I changed the flat, which had a nail, to the spare, which just needed air. And in the amount of time that took I could feel the symptoms — scratchy throat, glassy eyes — coming on.

So I’ve had sinuses or allergies or both since then. Lots of decongestants, very little breathing and all the weird medicine head and light fever sensations since then. And I really, really like to breathe.

Anyway, there’s not a lot here from the weekend because we had a casual weekend.

We did see this show, however, which was a lot of fun. Brody Dolyniuk covered Queen tunes with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. We had dinner Saturday night at an Irish pub and wondered what they would open with. I believe it was “I Want to Break Free.” And then what do you close with? “We Will Rock You,” of course, unfortunately. In between they did a wide range of the catalog including “Under Pressure,” which I don’t listen to much anymore. (I think it is better that way. Maybe it becomes something more special. Maybe I can always, then, keep track of where I heard it last. The last time I was at a Jason’s Deli, alone, eating one sad little dinner. It was right after David Bowie died.) They did a chill bump-causing cover of “Who Wants to Live Forever.” I mean just stirring. And, also, this, just before the end, which was of course a singalong:

There’s only one Freddie Mercury, science will tell you about that. But you can still catch a good show inspired by him.

Feb 17

Jo Stafford sings stuff for us

Sometime after I discovered big band music I really discovered Jo Stafford. She had the most divinely studio voice. A pure, opera-trained soprano and what they called a natural falsetto. Sultry and enchanting and she somehow always seemed to keep her distance from you, too. Even as you thought, if you squinted real hard and you imagined this was an old fuzzy AM radio and you weren’t always in such a climate-controlled environment that the “you” in her songs just might, in fact, be you.


Today I was looking for something else and I discovered that in 1961 Stafford and her husband were in London. They produced a nine-show series there. (There was a variety show in the U.S. in the 1950s) And I discovered that the great Ella Fitzgerald did a medley with Stafford.

Can you even?

Yes, you can:

Fitzgerald was the first black musician to win a Grammy. She’d win 12 more and sale more than 40 million records. Stafford had a Grammy. And midway through her career she was tapped as the best-selling female singer in the world.

Now, 1940s Jo Stafford is my favorite. By the time she was making the rounds on television she was in her mid-30s and on. Here she is with Bing Crosby in 1959 and it is incredible, but the whimsy of youth is replaced with the confidence that comes with well-earned wisdom. The one-liners come with their own answers and have a little skepticism and acid in them:

She’s able to not be overwhelmed by Bing, and he was kind enough to let her stay up there where she belonged.

This is 15 years previous, in a 1944 movie. She had six top 20 hits that year. She would have been 27 or 28 then, and The Pied Pipers had been working on these tight harmonies for about six years. She had no idea of the complete arc of her career then:

Because here’s Jo Stafford in the 1970s … she’d been doing a parody act for a long time with her husband. That was where her Grammy came from, a 1960s comedy record. She had what might have been one of the first alter-egos in pop music. “Darlene Edwards” was a hapless lounge act sort. And this was a 1979 hit:

Hard to reconcile that this is the same voice. This was her biggest hit:

Not hard to see why.