The River's Badge

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Nobody's Perfect"

I tend to watch the same TV channels. Thus, I see the same commercials, over and over.

I wonder, at times, if ad agencies focus-test their ads before running them. Because here's one I would have nixed - Liberty Mutual. Now, somebody's paying big bucks to run these ads, and yet they're (I'm pretty sure) having the exact opposite effect of what the client intended.

Here's what I get from the ads:

PERSON: It's only a matter of time before you rip some guy's bumper off.

ME: So, I'm supposed to foot the bill for you, because you don't give a shit about the damage you've  done to my car, because, after all, nobody's perfect. Well, frankly, with your blase attitude, I will make a point of staying far, far away from your "driving skills". You're just a somnambulistic inch away from making me fork over my exorbitant deductible, all because I need to indulge your fatalistic mindset.

Not to mention the girl who names her car. What the hell?  And then she throws him over, willy-nilly, when she gets that big insurance check, after she's "bumped" somebody's fender.

Here's the deal, Liberty: I'm not buying what you're selling.

On the way home from work last week, I found myself behind a guy who was weaving precariously toward the right shoulder, then drifting into the left lane and back again. This was 2:30 in the afternoon! I couldn't get close enough to report his license number, because, well...I didn't want to get that close. I obviously couldn't pass him, due to the side-swiping potential. I'm guessing he had Liberty Mutual Insurance, because, you know, life just happens. It's nobody's fault, really. Oh, I killed you? Sorry, I guess.

He probably was wearing that same ill-fitting denim jacket that the sartorially-deficient woman in the commercial is wearing - because, like her, he has no sense of decency. Or sobriety.

On the plus side, however, speaking of insurance (and who doesn't like to speak of insurance?), I'm rather partial to the Geico ad with the motorcycles, because I knew - I just knew that wasn't some prefab "commercial tune" they slapped on there. And I was right. The song was too good.

And I found it! It's the Wallflowers, and it's called One Headlight:

So, in a nutshell, if I was shopping for insurance, I believe I would go with Geico. Because their songs are cool and they don't treat me like a scrunched-up piece of plastic.

So, there's your focus group.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kicks Just Keep Gettin' Harder to Find

I can't say I was a big fan of Paul Revere and the Raiders' music. I was, however, a big fan of Paul Revere and the Raiders.


Well, as a twelve-to-thirteen-year-old, pictures torn from the pages of Tiger Beat Magazine and other pre-teen rags graced my bedroom wall. Mark Lindsay, especially, was cute! (the very best adjective a 1960's adolescent could ascribe to a boy - although I guess Mark wasn't exactly a boy at the time).  Other guys in the band were cute, too; although, shamefully, I don't remember their names.

I really only purchased one Raiders 45, and it wasn't Kicks, which is by far the band's best known hit.

With teenage wonder, I watched the guys perform on various TV variety shows, like Where The Action Is and Happening, my undeveloped mind unable to resolve out the disparity between their goofy costumes and the mainstream rock and roll they played.

My semi-developed mind now asks, wow, how much did those outfits cost? And what happened when one guy quit the band and the new guy didn't fit into the costume? More outlay of colonial-bucks, I guess.

Paul Revere died Saturday at the age of 76. He was born Paul Revere Dick...and the possible band names are not something I care to ponder. LUCKILY, he reverted to just plain Paul Revere and thus was born the Raiders.

He was a showman. I imagine he pretty much controlled everything to do with band - the aforementioned costumes, the "moves", the tri-corner hats. It seems, however, that he didn't play a hand in writing the band's songs. No matter. He was the person who found the gimmick, the man who got the band noticed. He, along with Mark Lindsay, also had the good taste to pick out some good songs from some good songwriters (such as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil). Paul also played a mean keyboard.

Throughout the band's heyday, personnel shuffled in and out (mostly out), but that's really no different from other '60's bands. Guys left to form their own bands, generally never to be heard from again. But they had dreams....

One brief member of the band was Freddy Weller, who sort of transitioned into country music, recording Joe South's Games People Play, which was nominated for CMA single of the year in 1969. One, even a giggly teenager, could sense that Freddy's heart really wasn't in wearing waistcoats and skintight white pants.

FUN FACT: It is unknown whether the Kingsmen or Paul Revere and the Raiders recorded Louie Louie first. Both bands recorded the song in the same studio in 1963. Obviously, the Kingsmen version is the famous one, primarily because one can make up their own lyrics as they sing along with the record.

I had to look at the band's discography to remember which of their many hits I actually purchased, and it was this one, which has no live video, most likely because it really wasn't a very good song, in hindsight:

The next song was better. And it was apparently serious! because the guys changed into twentieth century garb for Indian Reservation:

I remember this one! Here they are lip-syncing on Shindig:

Out of curiosity, I had to find this:

But enough with all that. I know what you and I have been waiting for. Here it is:

You can't say Paul Revere and the Raiders wasn't a fun band. They absolutely did have their day.

Rest in peace, Paul Revere. Thanks for the good times.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


(The sum total of my knowledge of Sweden)

Wikipedia tells me that the producer of ABBA's songs was Bo Michael Tretow. And here I thought it was Benny or Stig. Well, Mr. Tretow, I hope, ended up damn rich, because it was the sound of ABBA that did it. The song lyrics, frankly, were neither here nor there. Most of the time they were "there". But I suppose a lot gets lost in translation.

Whether it's the Beatles or the Beach Boys or...well, those are the two that come to mind...sure some of the lyrics were good; some of them were indecipherable or, to be honest, dumb, but it was the sound that pulled us in.

ABBA had an effervescence. That's not an accident. That's studio magic. I don't like to pull back the curtain - and Agnetha and Anni were nice singers - but somebody (obviously Mr. Tretow) was twisting knobs in the studio and pairing tracks in precisely the right combination to create that sound.

Did you know that ABBA is the second-best selling music group of all time? I didn't. But I do remember that the music of the seventies was...zzzzzzz....oops, sorry - I fell asleep. Which pretty much sums up the seventies.

Country music in the seventies wasn't even a speck on the wall worth swatting. Rock? Well, we had Badfinger, I guess. And we had the Bee Gees. We had John Denver who sang about sunshine on my....zzzzzz. 

Luckily we had ABBA:

I didn't know that ABBA had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they were, in 2010. They deserved it.

More and more, I don't want to be depressed when I listen to music. I want to be uplifted. I don't necessarily care what the words say. I just want the music to soar.

ABBA soared.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Country Music Novel

Write what you know, right?

I took that advice to heart, and therefore I am writing a country music novel.

As with all inspired ideas, it started out with a song - a George Strait song, by the by - and it turned into something a bit - okay, a lot - more involved.

My protagonist is an overnight disc jockey. She's landed in a dead-end town and she spins records in the wee hours. Meanwhile, she's being stalked by someone. At least everyone has convinced her that she is.

I am halfway through my story, and, oh yes, I do have a playlist. All inspired novelists have playlists - don't they?

Sometime, in the future, I'm going to link videos to my playlist - just because the visual medium helps me stay focused - but for now, here's what I've got:

1.   Heartland - George Strait
2.   There Goes My Heart - The Mavericks
3.   Fast As You - Dwight Yoakam
4.   Up! - Shania Twain
5.   Does He Love You - Reba McEntire and Linda Davis
6.   I Breathe In, I Breathe Out - Chris Cagle
7.   I Cross My Heart - George Strait
8.   Need You Now - Lady Antebellum
9.   Mama Tried - Merle Haggard
10. A Better Man - Clint Black
11. Indian Outlaw - Tim McGraw
12. T-R-O-U-B-L-E - Travis Tritt
13. Crazy - Patsy Cline
14. Mama He's Crazy - The Judds
15. I'm Movin' On - Rascal Flatts
16. I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack
17. Wagon Wheel - Darius Rucker
18. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams

These don't necessarily represent my "favorite" songs. But they're songs that fit within the story. I guess you'd just have to read it.

And here's the deal - if I don't manage to land an agent - and that's pretty hit or miss, to be honest - I'm going to self-publish. So, if you're a country music fan, you can still read this thing. One caveat - it could take me another six months or so before I finish it, and another 30 days before I figure out how in the hell to turn it into an e-book. But I'll get there.

Just a hint - number 15 is the one to watch for. That's the one that pretty much seals the deal.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ever Wonder ~ Why Wasn't This Song a Hit?

In 1994 I was ensconced in a corner office, through no effort of mine. My boss decided, on a whim, to just bestow it upon me. The first and last time I ever had a corner office. It was nice. At least I can say I once had one. Most of my working life has found me buried behind the grey prefab walls of a cubicle. It's all what you get used to - neither good nor bad. But a corner office is way better.

I was rather isolated, not in a bad way, but more in a "time to think" way. My employees were only a couple steps outside my door - I could walk out and shoot the breeze with them anytime I wanted. Some bosses don't do that; I did. Sure, I could close my door if I needed to, but how often does one really need to? A closed door becomes a crutch. I liked the people I worked with. I was just a naive fool anyway, bewildered by how in God's name I ever got put in charge of anything. To this day, I still don't know.

We had piped-in music where I worked. Most of it was annoying. If you've ever been subjected to Muzak, you know how it feels to want to reach up into the speakers and rip Andy Williams' guts out (no offense to Andy Williams). The music was just loud enough that it could not be denied. I heard it.

We didn't have the internet then - what the heck? A time when there wasn't an internet? We had computers, but all we did on them was compose Word documents and plug numbers into Excel spreadsheets. We barely had email. Our attention spans were much longer as a result.

I kept hearing this one song over the speakers, and I didn't know who was singing it (I had apparently banished all memories of Urban Cowboy from my brain). I stopped whatever numbers I was punching every time that song exploded out of the speakers. Who was it? It was a really excellent song!

I stopped into my local record store - I think the store was called Music City - and I asked the guy if he knew who sang that song about the bird. Fortuitously, the clerk knew what I was talking about, and he led me over to the "S" section of the CD rack and pointed out Boz Scaggs. Duh! Of course!

I loved this song from the first time I heard it and had no earthly idea who the singer was, and I love it now. Fate didn't make it a hit, I guess because fate prefers Mariah Carey or somebody. Fate has really bad taste.

But just listen to it. Boz didn't make a music video for the song. Music video? What the hell was that in 1994? Why, that was as alien as having a place where one could type in virtually anything and get information about any obscure topic one could conjure. Absurd!

Just so you don't have to ask your local record store clerk (as if there was such a thing as a record store!), the song is called FLY LIKE A BIRD:

Yes, you are most certainly welcome.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Obviously, This Could Complicate Things



Did you know Hayden Panettiere is pregnant? I didn't! Cool for her! Real life is not a Nashville soap opera. However...

How is this going to play out? I predict doom. Knowing how "Nashville" operates, nothing turns out happy.

I'm just too caught up in this show.

This needs to stop.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Is Country Music Dead, Asks Collin Raye

Well, sure.

That's not exactly news.

It's not that country music is dead, really. It's that "country music" is dead.

Country music is just different now. It's a whole different genre from what many of us used to call "country". I'm okay with that. I know that the music I like, those two words that used to trip off my tongue, is now called Americana. It just takes some getting used to. Old habits die hard.

I never wanted to become one of those old-timers, the ones who say, "In my day..." Because the people who say that are simply sugarcoating the past. I've been listening to country music since the sixties. Sure, there were some poetic songs - simple poetry like the kind Merle Haggard wrote, and the more literary stuff that Kris Kristofferson penned. But there was also a whole lot of junk - throwaways - kinda like most of the Top 40 songs of today. Those songs didn't set out to be timeless; they set out to make a buck - kinda like most of the Top 40 songs of today. Collin Raye is romanticizing the past, which is what all of us do.


Taken as a whole, yes, the country music of yore was eons better than the country music of now. I agree with Collin that there's far too much of the "yee haw", pickup truck, redneck blah blah blah stuff on the radio today. C'mon people! You can't possibly be that shallow? Can you? People today still have "feelings", right? How about writing about that?

What? You're telling me that the whole "feelings" stuff can't get played on the radio? Well, shame on corporate broadcasting! You're making kids look like a bunch of possession-obsessed androids. Kids aren't really like that. I have kids, so I know.

But enough railing. It simply is what it is. What do I care, really? I have all the "good songs" on CD and safely tucked away inside my computer. I can listen to them anytime I want.

Nevertheless, if you would like to read what Collin Raye has to say on the topic, click on "Is Country Music Dead?"

I could have thrown in a bunch of awesome country music videos here, but really, you can just envision your own. Mine would be different from yours anyway.

I do want to add, however, that if you think Collin Raye doesn't know whereof he speaks, then you haven't heard "In This Life".

Oh, shoot. I have to include it here, since I just mentioned it: