Saturday Song for Walter

Hello, Friends. There’s a lot I want to catch up on as I’ve been promoting the release of my first chapbook so much lately.  But I want to pause and talk about a couple of artists we’ve lost in the past week, including poet John Ashbery (more on him in the next post) and today’s Saturday Song Featured artist, Walter Becker, half of the band known as Steely Dan.

I honestly can’t say I’ve followed Becker and the band’s co-founder Donald Fagen in recent years, but they’d still been playing up until Becker’s recent illness. But then, you don’t follow the sun, right? It’s just always there. It comes up again every day, even if it’s cloudy for a while. That’s how it is with Steely Dan; their songs are just always there, like the blue in blue jeans.

What I remember is just how intricate their music has been to the soundtrack of my childhood. Seemingly easy, but smart jazz-rock in the background or on any car radio tuned to a classic rock station. The songs that are part of me most include the earnestness of “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number,” the one-word hook of “Peg,” the fun, but arguably inappropriate “Cousin Dupree” and “Hey, 19. ” But probably my two favorites are in the videos below.

Here’s a link to Walter Becker’s obituary in the Rolling Stone, and be sure to follow on to Fagen’s tribute to his music partner of more than 45 years.

“They got a name for the winners in the world.
I wanna name when I lose.”

While listening tonight to Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues,” I realized we were a full minute and a half in before the chorus, and more than two minutes in before the hook. Is the bulk of modern pop just not that intelligent anymore, or have our attention spans really shrunk so much that we can’t enjoy a long, poetic build up like this on our top forty charts today? Or is my nostalgia just skewing my perception? Here’s “Deacon Blues” from their album of 40 years ago, Aja (pronounced Asia),

And now, my favorite. I recently watched a clip of Donnie and Marie Osmond totally butchering this song on their old variety show, dancing a two-step, smiling ear-to-ear as if there was no twisted-mouth, sarcastic humor in the words, totally missing the mood of the music.

“You’ve been telling me you were a genius since you were 17.
In all the time I’ve known you I still don’t know what you mean.
The weekends at the college didn’t turn out like you planned.
The things that pass for knowledge, I can’t understand.”

And maybe the fact that I am coming up on a big birthday this weekend is why I am feeling so nostalgic for this song.  From their 1972 album Can’t Buy a Thrill, Steely Dan’s “Are you Reelin’ in the Years.”

Thank you, Walter, for contributing to my world with your songs and your wicked humor, You’ll be missed.

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Saturday Song with Sting

Sussex England, 2010 by Robert Montgomery

I am trying to be a busy, or at least a productive, writer today. Clearing off my desk, sorting through my notes, preparing my files. I have been getting announcements out about the coming publication of my debut chapbook and I have a list of book reviews and other projects to plot and produce.

So in the spirit of clearing off my desk and clearing out my mind, here’s a Saturday Song feature for today. Someone once told me that the way to let an earworm out of your head is to sing it to someone else. It gets it out of your system and passes the bug on to someone else to carry. I am, however, being very kind to you by passing along a gorgeous, deep and beautiful earworm today, not just some catchy ditty (not that there is anything wrong with those).

The above image by Scottish text artist Robert Montgomery was posted to Facebook this morning by fellow poet and dear friend Philip Clark. You can read more about it at Poets & Writers. It set me thinking about a song by Sting and songwriter Gordon Sumner. The lyrics focus, not so much on the beloved, as on the feelings of the one speaking in the words.  And this, I suspect, is why they are so effective. It helped me cope and move on, allowing me to agree to what I felt and what had happened so that I could live more honestly from there.

I’ll leave the rest of this between you and Sting to sort out. Happy Saturday! Weekend updates on the way soon!

Saturday Songs with the Cactus Blossoms

From the credits of 2017’s episode three (and the Cactus Blossom’s website)

If you are like me, you have been enjoying the long-awaited return of Twin Peaks. Perhaps I’ll join the ranks of those attempting to review the episodes, but for now, I’m just enjoying the nostalgia and the wild ride through David Lynch‘s imagination.

I’ve also been digging the bands that have been playing at the Bang Bang Bar at the end of each episode. I think it was episode three’s conclusion and credits that introduced me to the Cactus Blossoms,  who have an Everly Brothers sound with echoes of Johnny Cash, and hints of Eddy Arnold. My mother would have loved them. I also hear a bit of Lucinda Williams in their harmonies. It’s the kind of classic country-early rock-slightly folk mix that takes me back to my childhood (Yes, I am that old).

Here are three songs from the Cactus Blossoms for your Saturday. The first is “Mississippi,” which is the haunting tune they played in Twin Peaks, though not the same footage. The second one seems to fit the show’s theme, “Change Your Ways or Die,” and the third is just a lovely bit of fun to keep you tapping your toes on this long weekend: “Stoplight Kisses.” Enjoy.

And if you still need more, Continue reading “Saturday Songs with the Cactus Blossoms”

Saturday Songs with Sophie (Again!)


Embed from Getty Images

I’ve been working on poems all day, well in between laundry, shopping lists, and lunch. Between the projects in the air, and whatever else I might have worth submitting into the great abyss of lit mags and journals, this feeling has grown that I’m on the verge of a new phase. Maybe all the unfinished poems in my notebooks were just my poet’s voice practicing its scales. Maybe it’s time to let some old things go and keep moving.

That in mind, I moved on to do my workout. Even when I feel like my energy levels are low, Sophie Ellis-Bextor can always get me moving. Here are two songs that I want to dance to at my wedding some (not too far off) day. Yeah, more about that another time. Suffice it to say, more than seven years together and he still lights up when I walk into the room. Someone told me once that there are more important things, but I’ve been around enough Continue reading “Saturday Songs with Sophie (Again!)”

Happy Poetry Month

Honestly, it wasn’t my idea this time!

“Exactly what this country needs . . . we are what we believe.”

For the first day of National Poetry Month in the US (Cue comments from friends who write essays about why we don’t need poetry month hoopla. As the kids say, “Whatever.”) Here is a Saturday SongHere is a Saturday Song, well-chosen by the younger poet in the family. When you visit his blog, please remind him that his father said he should finish cleaning his room this weekend.

Oh! And keep your eyes peeled (Who came up with that terrible metaphor? It sounds painful!) for a collaborative Poetry Month feature he and I will be posting each week through April!

Source: Happy Poetry Month

Nobody Knows, a Saturday Song

That title is a good argument for the clarity that commas can bring. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Today, I just want to pull you away from the news sites and have you cuddle up with me for a bit while we listen to one of my favorite bands. I know how stressful following the Twitter and Facebook feeds can be. And I know how torn we are between the need to stay informed and the desire to throw weighty objects at politicians on the TV screen. Every email in your inbox seems to imply that the world will end if you don’t do something right now.

“Nobody knows how to get back home . . . “

I assure you, there is some balance to be found somewhere between being a concerned citizen, engaged in politics, and just allowing yourself to enjoy what comforts we humans have fought for and remained engaged to protect.  And I know, like when a house catches fire, that some days call for more immediate and urgent action than others. But you cannot remain in the fight-or-flight stage for long Continue reading “Nobody Knows, a Saturday Song”