The River's Badge

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I don't particularly like holidays. I just like "days". I'm a creature of habit, so anything that intrudes on my carefully constructed schedule makes me feel out of sorts.

However, I suppose, in keeping with the All-American tradition, one should use Thanksgiving to reflect upon thankfulness. The cynical me would say that most people utilize this holiday to pig out on foods their wives only cook one or two times a year, and to drink mass quantities of beer, and to gorge themselves on football. The sentimental me would harken toward gratitude and family familiarity (once I'm done slaving over a hot oven and washing multitudes of dishes).

You know me; I'm honest, at least on my blog, if nowhere else. To whit, I don't know that I have a ton of things to be thankful for this year. 2015 has been a struggle. Financially. But the past three years have been a struggle, so I either accept it or go mad. I prefer to accept it.

My job becomes more and more tedious and stress-inducing as the years go by. I comfort myself, sometimes, with the thought that I only have five more years until retirement, but then I think, five more years?

So I search out the finer things. Things like my dog, who I love and depend on. Which sounds silly, but honestly, I depend on her being there...or here...napping, dreaming on my loveseat, legs pointed toward heaven; content. Which makes me feel content. 

Finer things like PBS documentaries, which have no commercials, and therefore I can fall asleep for a heavenly thirty-minute nap and not be jarred awake by someone hawking GOLD! To put in my safe. And asking me, impudently, what actually is in my safe. None of your damn business, William Devane!

Finer things like rediscovered music; music I'd forgotten or brushed aside because it was silly.

Here's a tip: Don't worry about "silly".

For example:

So, it all comes down to music.

It always comes down to music.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 CMA Awards - Or, Who Is Chris Stapleton?

I don't watch 'em, because I don't know who anybody is anymore. Sure, I know who Brad Paisley is, and I know who Carrie Underwood is, but other than that? Apparently, I'm fully ensconced in the twentieth century and a hundred years have passed me by.

I still read about 'em, though, because old habits die hard. I'm probably hoping to catch a glimpse of George Strait, who's retired, actually. We're not in the nineties anymore?

It's my own fault for not listening to country radio, but funny story -- I was laid back in the dentist's chair the other day and country was blaring from the (apparently hygienist's favorite) channel, and I thought, well, here's an opportunity to catch up on what I've missed, since I have no choice but to lie here and allow a stranger to chisel my teeth.

I didn't recognize anyone's voice except for Brad Paisley's, because the DJ played "Mud On The Tires", apparently during his oldie spotlight. To be honest, Brad Paisley is, to me, not even an oldie. When I stopped listening to country in 2001, he was a new up-and-comer. I knew the song about fishing, but that was the extent of my BP awareness. I may have recognized his voice, also, because he actually has a recognizable voice.

Throughout the course of my sociological experiment, I may have pinpointed one of the problems I have with "new" country (aside from the fact that it isn't country). I was curious about that, honestly.  It's not that I don't want to listen to music -- good heavens, no! I've loved music, or been in love with music my whole life. I'm a pretty reliable encyclopedia of music, actually. And I'm open-minded. In fact, I'm considering giving it another go -- perhaps tuning my radio to the "country" station at work one day and enduring an hour (maybe) of today's hits -- because I have to get a handle on this.

But what struck me, in the dentist's chair, was the artists' apparent fear of singing. Everything was staccato. Lots of words, no breath in between. That's not how Tammy Wynette did it. In fact, her grace note was that long-held crescendo at the end of the song. Do today's artists have no breath control? Are they heavy smokers? Singing should be...singing. Not "speaking". Anyone can speak. If that was the bar, I could just sit here and spout words out loud and I would have absolutely no need to listen to music.

And it's not like the words they're morse-coding are relevatory. They're not like, "Today I Started Loving You Again". What I got out of it was a lot of bitching (women) or body drooling (men).

So, obviously, the highlight of my CMA video recap was this:

(FYI - Kenny Chesney in the audience - cheer up! Garth and Trisha are having fun!)

So, this guy, Chris Stapleton, is, I guess, the new phenom. I could say, Johnny Paycheck, Charlie Rich, et al. But that would date me, I suppose. This also is not country, but it's better. I don't hate it. Maybe country has a future after all.

Not that it's going to turn me into a new country fanatic. Nashville is going to need to do better than that. But still:

This might spur "singers" to actually "sing". If for no other reason than the bottom dollar. I do like, however, that somebody, somewhere, has a modicum of music pride.

So, there you go -- 2015 -- CMA's.

The rest of the show might have been great. I don't know; I go to bed at 8:00. I have an early alarm.

But ask me about the 1970 CMA's, or even the 1973's. I could regale you forever. But those recaps would actually feature "singing".

Weird, twentieth-century concept.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Rumor has it that Nashville might be in its final season. That rather sucks, because it's one of the few (very few) shows I watch. I began DVR'ing The Grinder until I realized it was, sadly, boring. I like John Stamos, so I decided to record Grandfathered, but I found I never watched it, so I stopped. I still record Big Bang, even knowing that that ship has sailed. I watch it if I get time; otherwise - eh. American Masters is all reruns currently, so it does record, but I delete the latest episode because I've already seen it.

I need a good soap. I have a vast history with shows that weren't touted as soaps, but really were. Shoot, St. Elsewhere was a soap, if we boil it down. I loved that show.  Anything episodic, to me, is a soap. "Soap" means you can't wait to see what happens next. That could encompass a lot of shows; not just The Young And The Restless.

It seems to me, though, that the writers of Nashville just kind of gave up. It's like they know the end is near, so they throw a bunch of crap at us viewers and say, take or leave it - we're polishing up our resumes for the next network opportunity.

They apparently don't know or care that we've invested time and heart in their stupid show and we don't want to be left with a denouement that essentially fizzles.

I mean, come on! You're in your third season! I could see if it was season eight. Sure, nobody cares then - just ask the Big Bang people.

I realized at the start of this season that music was being shoved into the coat closet. Nobody cares! (apparently). What little music the show features is crumpled refuse - except for the song that Audrey Peeples did on this week's episode, which has no YouTube video, because again, nobody apparently gives a damn.

Let's be clear, producers: If you don't care, why do you want us to care? Muster some self-respect, honestly!

And let's just say that I always liked Jeff Fordham, even though I never got past the fact that the actor, Oliver Hudson, is Goldie Hawn's kid. I don't think they should have killed off his character. I don't know the behind-the-scenes stuff -- maybe he had a movie offer or something. Nevertheless, the show got rid of an interesting character who wasn't all gooey toothache sugar (and I'm talking about the guys here -- Come on! Be guys!)

I'm bored with the whole Juliette Barnes arc. It was interesting for awhile, but now that she's going to rehab, we're supposed to like her again? She's actually an asshole. And all twelve of the steps won't change that. Avery should run like hell. And shield his kid.

If you didn't see it coming, I could have foretold -- Rayna and Deacon together makes for one boring-ass storyline. The Rayna character always was a blank sheet of paper. Deacon, at least, was interesting -- away from her.

I never liked Scarlett and I still find her whiny and impossible to understand, with her Aussie-fake-Mississippi "accent". Gunnar used to be somewhat interesting, but now he's become a non-guy, like the rest of them who haven't yet been killed off.

So, let's just say the "soap" isn't too bubbly for me anymore. Oh, I'll keep watching. I don't like to leave things unfinished.

One thing I will point out for those who are not in the know: Deacon's sponsor? The one whose bar he bought into and renamed The Beverly (sorry, but that name is awful) - Well, Mark Collie used to be a real country star. Here's proof:

I like to educate when I can.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Earworms Revisited

Presciently, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article regarding the dreaded earworm. I say "presciently" because I've been plagued by one for oh, about, four weeks now. Thus, I was excited to read the story, hoping it would unlock the secret to banishing my parasite once and for all.

Alas, the only relatable statement I found was, "Songs with earworm potential appear to share certain features: A repeating pattern of ups and downs in pitch, and an irregular musical interval. “It’s like your brain picks up on that unusual element and wants to hear it again.” Okay, check. But how do I exterminate it?

I also learned:

"People who sing and listen to music more often tend to have longer, more-frequent earworms. And people with obsessive-compulsive tendencies are apt to have them more often and to find them more intrusive. Most earworms actually aren’t unpleasant, surveys show...Some earworms are just fragments of a song that repeat like a broken record. That may be because working memory holds only limited amounts of auditory information at one time, some experts say. Another possible explanation is that when the mind hits a part of a song it can’t remember, it loops back rather than moving on."

Check, and check.

  • I don't actually listen to music, which may contribute to my current malady. If I listened to music more, I'd probably be able to replace my earworm with something slightly less, or at least equal to, my current torture. I do, however, sing, albeit generally only inside my head, but it still counts.

  • I am unaware of any OCD afflictions, but I am rather schedule-enslaved; although I always considered that a positive. It certainly has kept me timely all these years.

  • Fragments of a song...yes. That's because I don't know the lyrics beyond the first two lines. I think perhaps had I known the words to this song, I could have avoided this torture all together. But one can't know the words to every song, and if they did, they'd be considered a freak, and that's a whole other set of issues.

How to rid oneself of an earworm, they say?

"Listen to the actual song—all the way to the end. ‘Some people say that’s the only way to achieve closure,’ says Kelly Jakubowski, a Goldsmiths, University of London psychologist."

This is untrue. I've tried it. Several times. It doesn't work.

"Distract yourself with a task that requires attention."

Oh, come on.

"Imagine a different song to drown the first one.‘The Girl from Ipanema’ has legendary earworm-chasing capacity."

Yea, thanks. I hate that song. But even though I hate it and even though "you" (the reporter) suggested it, I got nothin'. It does not commence repeat-play inside my skull.

"Chew gum. In a study, the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology in April, researchers at the University of Reading in England, 98 volunteers listened to ‘Play Hard’ by David Guetta and ‘Payphone’ by Maroon 5 and then hit a key if they heard either in their heads. Those who chewed gum reported one-third fewer earworms—possibly because the action ties up the same mental pathways used in imagining music, the researchers surmised."

That's so dumb, I'm not even going to experiment with it.

Bottom line is, nobody knows how to get rid of an earworm. Especially me. The truth is, I'm not one of the apparently ten million people who have "Billie Jean" ribboning through their brains. I've heard of Maroon 5, but I couldn't, on threat of waterboarding, name even one of their songs. I do know "The Girl From Ipanema", but that's just because I think there might have been a commercial once that used the song..."Tall and tan and young and lovely"....I'm conjecturing it was an ad for suntan lotion. Or pantyhose.

If I was to guess, I'd say it all started because my husband DVR'd the movie, "Con-Air" and lo and behold, Trisha Yearwood started singing during an early (poignant) scene, and I remembered that sometime back in the nineties. I'd heard that song, but I'd forgotten about it (I have lots of decades-old songs lodged in my cranium, so I can't instantly recall all of them). But my apparently OCD mind wanted to recall it, perhaps to recapture my long-lost youth. Freud would say the song has some subliminal meaning to me, but all I remember is that both Trisha and LeAnn Rimes recorded it, and there was some kind of dust-up in the country music rags about who sang it best (it was Trisha - always Trisha). Other than that, I couldn't give a damn about this song as it might relate to my life at the time -- as if I could even remember my life at that time.

This song will never cease to be my earworm. In fact, it's playing inside my brain right now. It's my cross to bear. I comfort myself with the knowledge that things could be worse.

All I can do is foist it on you, my loyal readers. That may seem cruel, but I'm pretty desperate. Maybe if you shoulder it, my burden will be lifted.

(It pains me to even play this song again.)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cory Wells

By the time Three Dog Night came along, I had slipped the cusp of rock music. But one was never disconnected from pop culture in the late sixties/early seventies, because variety shows still existed and we only had three channels, so the latest sensation was impossible to miss. And music was everywhere, whether one wanted it to be or not. Music was playing on somebody's transistor radio on my school bus. Bands performed on the Tonight Show, in the last few minutes, when I was supposed to be asleep, but I threw caution to the wind and stayed up late, lying on my side with my little portable black and white TV on the table next to me, Mom's rules be damned.

So of course I heard Three Dog Night, but I was a mite confused as to who exactly was Three Dog Night and who was Blood Sweat and Tears. I quickly understood that BS&T were a pseudo-rock group, whereas Three Dog Night were the real deal. (There was a lot of that pseudo stuff in the sixties - people jumping on the bandwagon, looking for that number one single on the rock charts, when they should have been performing in a jazz club or doing old standards in front of a big band. That always irked me about the "rock" of the late sixties. The door was open and anyone could come in, and the old people liked the whole Up Up And Away vibe, because it wasn't threatening. But it wasn't rock. At least country smacked you in the face with its authenticity and didn't give a damn whether you liked it or not.)

But I had to hand it to Three Dog Night. They didn't write their own songs, but they were good at picking them. They chose from Randy Newman and Hoyt Axton and Harry Nilsson and the other guys who were pounding the pavement, trying to convince anybody to record their compositions and make enough money to go on to do the soundtrack for Midnight Cowboy.But as any songwriting loser (such as I) will tell you, it's just a song unless you got somebody awesome singing it. Three Dog Night was pretty awesome.

Cory Wells died this week. The band was supposed to be playing a show a couple of miles from where I live, but the performance was postponed due to the "illness" of one of the band members. My husband saw Three Dog Night in concert once and he said it was one of the best shows he'd ever seen. I never got to see them, and now I won't. GO SEE PEOPLE WHEN YOU HAVE THE CHANCE. The chance doesn't last forever. I once wrote a blog post about artists I wish I'd seen live. I've decided that I won't have any more "wishes". If I have the opportunity to see somebody special, I'm going. Shoot, people, time is running out!

Self-absorbed teenager that I was, I didn't realize that Three Dog Night had three lead singers. It never crossed my mind that one song sounded different from the other. If the DJ said, "Three Dog Night", I thought, okay, it's hard to imprint that sound on my brain, but that's just because I'm an idiot. Never once crossed my mind.

But Cory Wells was a good singer, now that I understand which songs he fronted.

Like this:

(So young.)

And this Randy Newman song:

In hindsight, of course, I can certainly hear the diverse voices of TDN. Like this:


One has to understand the times to grasp the utter hate I had for this next song. I'm not begrudging the band for this monster hit; I'm just saying it sucks. And it especially sucks after hearing it nine thousand times. The song was everywhere - radio ad nauseum, TV, any juke joint (okay, diner - I was a kid) one would step inside, Grocery store, Woolworth's. I maintain Hoyt Axton wrote it as a joke. I could be wrong; the times were rife with "substances". But here's the thing about this song: it's monotonous. It's not good. Three Dog Night gave it their all, and bless them, they scored a number one that refused to detach itself from the charts. But the song scarred many of us. It marked the end of pseudo-pop. It drove some of us into the arms of Merle Haggard and even George Jones.

There's a special place in hell for this song, but kudos, Hoyt Axton! My memory is long, and I don't forget.

(I'm sure it would be fun in person, though. Everybody knows the words.)

Another era ends. The era of late sixties/early seventies pop or rock or whatever we called it. (We just called it rock, FYI.)

And Cory Wells, you were a great singer. I wish I'd seen you in person. Thanks for leading us through some pretty bad times in music by lifting us up and giving us something good to grasp onto.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


(Nope, just me!)
Why are so many songs written about being crazy? Crazy isn't a desirable state, is it? Or IS IT? I don't personally know any crazy people, but it's probably very peaceful. Crazy people don't get annoyed by driving over potholes or their neighbor leaving their garbage can on the curb for approximately three months. Or by relentless TV commercials for Australian Dream or some dweeb standing in front of the Statue of Liberty grilling them about, "Why do you have that car insurance?"
Hence, I think "crazy" might actually equal "serene". 
And with that thought forcing out any coherent concerns from my brain, I have decided to do a "crazy" countdown. (Oh, that's another annoying ad -- "The Final Countdown" performance while some poor working dude is just trying to nuke his burrito in the microwave -- I watch far too much cable news.)
So, wheeeee! I'm ready to be crazy!
10. I Go Crazy -- Paul Davis (The ultimate 70's song - no offense to the seventies. P.S. Love the hair.)
9. Crazy Love -- Poco (Know the song; didn't know this was the name of it.)
8. Still Crazy After All These Years -- Paul Simon (Filler, to be honest. Never really was enamored of this song.)
7. Crazy For You -- Madonna (I always enjoy returning to the 90's)
6. She Drives Me Crazy -- Fine Young Cannibals (Always go with the falsetto, I say)
5. I've Always Been Crazy -- Waylon Jennings (WAY better!)
4.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love -- Dwight Yoakam (Okay, yea, I know it's a Queen song - don't care.)
3.  Crazy Arms -- Ray Price (Yes! Music!)
2. Mama He's Crazy -- The Judds (The Judds basically rescued country music, in case you forgot.)
1.  Crazy -- Patsy Cline (C'mon - you know it's probably the best song of all time.I have nothing more to say.)

 Thank you for going crazy with me. After listening to Patsy Cline, I've decided that crazy isn't so bad.



Why, you ask, didn't I include Prince? Well, His Highness is rather "protective" (let's say) of his videos. I don't know why; I don't understand exactly why a performer wouldn't want to be seen, but that's his gig. I often don't even understand my own thought processes, and I would say I know me pretty well.

I did find one, though (a video; not a brain wave). Let's see how long this can remain here before I receive a cease and desist letter


Friday, October 16, 2015


It occurred to me that I spend a lot of blog posts talking about "oldies". Mind you, they're not oldies to me. But at my age, time is apparently relative. Things I think happened, oh, a couple of months ago actually occurred in 2009. Some sort of space-time continuum flares up when one reaches my age. The other night, somebody was talking about something on TV (damned if I remember what it was) and it brought to mind my junior high days. Those seem to have happened oh, a couple of years ago. I can still feel the red-faced embarrassment.

How does that happen? I would equate it to dog years, except my dog still seems pretty spry for her age, whereas when I look in the mirror in the morning, I ponder who that old woman is who's blocking my makeup-applying view. I think it might be my mom.

I met someone a couple of weeks ago through my work who mentioned that a "Cole" somebody was going to be performing at a casino near where she lives (I think she said "Cole"; might have been "Coby" or "Cody",) I mumbled, Oh, I've heard of him", but I might have just been remembering Colby cheese.

I frankly couldn't pick "Cole" out of a lineup.

See, the thing is, when one reaches my age, it's just a bunch of trouble to learn new names. The guy could be good, or he could be great - I'll never know. I can remember "Merle" and I can remember "George", because I formed those attachments when my brain was still pink and pulsing.

And one's brain does another thing when it gets old - it gets cranky.

"Why do I need to know who Jett Jethroson is? I'm sure he sucks anyway. My cortex only has room for a finite number of facts, dammit!"

So, if you're looking for my thoughts on new music, well, I have no thoughts. But I can remind you, or introduce you to, artists that are even older than me (!) and act as sort of a historian. A tour guide.

Everybody needs to have a purpose.