“Word, Gettin’ A Girl is Hard, It Ain’t Funny”


“Kangol don’t know if she want me or my money” – U.T.F.O.

In 1987, I gave a blank Memorex cassette tape to a high school basketball teammate and asked if he would make me a copy of that album he was listening to and bragging about at the time. He agreed, and brought me back a copy a few days later. The album was the third album by a Brooklyn quartet I had never heard of before called U.T.F.O., and the album’s name was “Lethal.”

The group was made up of “Kangol Kid” (Shiller Shaun Fequiere), “Educated Rapper” (Jeffrey Campbell), “Doctor Ice” (Fred Reeves), and “Mix Master Ice” (Maurice Bailey). The group’s name which stands for UnTouchable Force Organization had originally begun as U.F.O. until they were informed that there was already an English rock band with that name. They added the “T” (much to Kangol’s dismay who was quoted once saying “‘un’ is not a word”).

Before he was part of the group U.T.F.O., Kangol and Doc Ice were just “Shaun and Freddy” and then as a dance duo known as “The Keystone Dancers.” As The Keystone Dancers, they won first place in a dance competition at the Spring of 1983 Radio City Music Hall talent contest when he and Freddy were only 16 and 17 years of age, respectively. They were invited onto numerous morning shows to demonstrate that ability as you’ll see from this video.

It sure is painfully awkward watching these middle-aged white men who obviously know very little about dancing and have very little in common with two teenagers from Brooklyn try to be engaging and funny with Shaun and Freddy. But the dancing even some almost 40 years later is still very impressive.

After catching the eye of hip-hop and R&B group Full Force member Brian “B-Fine” George at a local dance competition, they were invited to be backup dancers for Full Force. In actuality, George was only at the competition to rough up Shaun (unbeknownst to Shaun at the time) for apparently flirting with his girlfriend, but instead was so impressed by their dance routine, he invited the duo to be backup dancers instead. That stint then led to the duo in becoming backup dancers behind the rap group Whodini, who had released their debut album in 1982 and were making waves on the rap scene by this time. Whodini also contained Doc Ice’s older brother Jalil Hutchins.

Soon after, Kangol Kid and Doctor Ice formed the group U.T.F.O. after recruiting Bailey (Educated) and Campbell (Mix Master), and proceeded to record their first album on Select Records. Their debut album was produced by the group Full Force and their first single was a smooth, uptempo jam called “Hanging Out.” But it was the B-side that caught the ear of a then-local (now world-famous) DJ named Kool DJ Red Alert. That particular B-side song was the rap classic “Roxanne, Roxanne.”

As I’ve said before in earlier posts, my earliest memories of listening to rap music was really during my 15-16 year old sophomore year in high school in 1986-87. That was when my earlier mentioned teammate had me listening on his headphones in our school library to a song called “Girls Ain’t Nothin’ But Trouble” by a little-known duo called DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. I was hooked, and that song led me to Run-DMC’s “Raising Hell” album (and earlier albums), and the Beastie Boys and Salt-N-Pepa, and BDP, and then LL Cool J’s “Bigger and Deffer” and Kool Moe Dee’s “How Ya Like Me Now?” album and then ultimately to the quartet known as U.T.F.O.

“Kangol Kid” passed away in December of complications from colon cancer (PSA: get screened). He was 55 and hip-hop’s first endorsed artist. Before Run-DMC blew sales of Adidas through the roof, Kangol Kid was helping to prop up Kangol hat sales in every city where he performed. One of his hats is enshrined in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. He had 35+ year relationship with the company at the time of his death.

Kangol produced and managed the group Whistle. After the breakup of U.T.F.O., Kangol continued producing and songwriting, ran his own company, and was an advocate for the American Cancer Society in later years. A true pioneer and legend in the genre, and just one of the greats to do it all back in the day.

“So I’m bein’ picky, cause I ain’t sure. And I’m livin’ a life you might call insecure.”

U.T.F.O. released five albums, four of which were in the 80’s, so I narrowed my favorite U.T.F.O. songs from those four albums… U.T.F.O.(1985), Skeezer Pleezer (1986), Lethal (1987) and “Doin’ It” (1989). By the time 1991’s “Bag It and Bone It” album came out, Doc Ice was officially out, and I had little to no interest in that particular U.T.F.O. album. So, in honor of Kangol Kid, here is…

Sincerely the 80’s Top 10 U.T.F.O. Songs from the 80’s:

#10 “Leader of the Pack” – The Shangri-Las version, this is not. It’s just a solid shoutout off of their debut album from the three distinct MC’s to the man in the back, the man in black – Mix Master Ice, aka “The Leader of the Pack”

#9 “Master of the Mix” – This is another shoutout record to Mix Master Ice and comes from the “Doin’ It” album. The song samples from The Doobie Brothers’ intro to “Long Train Runnin’,” and I love the dope bass in this song that features Mix Master Ice doing more outstanding work again on the tables. I appreciated the few Public Enemy samples as well.

#8 “Get Down” – One of my personal favorites from the “Lethal” album. The song samples from one of my favorites – Kool & The Gang, and their song “Jungle Boogie.” Was this a date night song? Depends upon what kind of “date” you were on I suppose, but not in my world.

#7 “Split Personality” – Doc Ice is at his finest on this lone track from the “Skeezer Pleezer” album in 1986. Unfortunate album cover aside, this album is almost solely Kangol, Ice, and Mix Master as the Educated Rapper was receiving help for a drug problem during this time, and probably the main reason (well that and the unfortunate album cover) why I never dug into this album much. But on this particular track Doc Ice absolutely slays the first verse.

Sorry, but who thought this was a dope album cover?

#6 “Wanna Rock” From the “Doin’ It” album, this song sampled 1973’s “Love Is the Message” by MFSB and is the only song here that doesn’t feature Doc Ice as Kangol and Educated Rapper take their turns on the mic while Doc Ice had left to pursue a solo career (1989’s “The Mic Stalker”). Mix Master working the tables at the end of the song sampling from Rob Base and DJ Eazy Rock’s “It Takes Two” is a highlight for me on this song.

#5 “Beats and Rhymes” – “Fly girls feel the groove. Homeboys bust a move.” Just remember it’s not beans and rice. With Full Force providing a catchy hook, the three MC’s take turns completing each other’s lines in the first verse followed by verses that each perform individually on this danceable track from their debut album.

#4 “Fairytale Lover” – If you’re a fan of the slow rap jams (think LL’s “I Need Love”), then you might enjoy this one. Also from their debut album, I’ll go ahead and issue a “corny lyrics warning” right here, but pay attention to the lyrics anyway because DJ Run sure did, and it was these lyrics that inspired Run DMC’s “Peter Piper.”

#3 “Roxanne, Roxanne” So go ahead and beef with me if you think this should be #1. I acknowledge that this is UTFO’s most famous song which led to the “The Roxanne Wars” for years to come after this song was released. Rolling Stone listed it as one of the greatest 100 rap songs of all-time (#84). Maybe it’s because I really didn’t hear this song first. I mean, I don’t know or can’t recollect for sure if I heard this song before their “Lethal” album or not, but I do concede the importance of the song in rap lore.

#2 “Hanging Out” – I don’t mean to offend you, but that’s just the way I am (I guess). I’m not going to argue with Kool DJ Red Alert at all, but I’m here to say this A-side still sits ahead (for me anyway) of the B-side’s “Roxanne, Roxanne.” Rap blasphemy I know, but I just love the beat and rhythm to this song. You get a verse featuring candy bars and another verse of indecipherable slang lyrics made popular in the early 80’s by funk musician Frankie Smith and later on in the early 90’s by Snoop Dogg. Without a doubt it’s all about hanging out. Five out of the 10 songs are from their debut album, but not my favorite…

And my #1 UTFO song that will always hold a special place in my heart – probably from all of the times I played it over and over in my Sony Walkman (many times on a big yellow school bus heading to or from a basketball game) – it’s the highlight of the “Lethal” album – “Ya Cold Wanna Be With Me”…

R.I.P. Kangol Kid (and Educated Rapper for that matter who passed away from cancer in 2017).

Days before his passing, Kangol posted this picture of he and hip-hop’s “other” Kangol-wearing legend, LL Cool J.

Take care of yourself, and thanks for reading.

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“Come They Told Me”

“Pa rum pum pum pum.” – Various artists (written by Katherine Kennicott Davis)

for King & Country

Ah yes, it is the beautiful musical story of the little boy who had nothing to bring the newborn king, but instead carried his drum and played his gift for him. If you don’t like this song, or maybe you just dislike drummers in general for some peculiar reason, then you might want to check out of this post, but I’d encourage you not to because the story reminds me of something else – miracles.

Many of us are looking for miracles this season… something to lift the spirit… something to give us hope and joy and even a purpose during those dark times that so often crash down around and upon us during times that are supposed to be the most joyous of occasions.

This is the first Christmas without my dad who passed away in August, and it’s been difficult. I find myself tearing up over the silliest and most mundane things this season. I see something Irish (my dad was full blood Irish) – I tear up. I watch one of our family friends coaching basketball on tv (there are a few at prominent universities and on tv frequently) – I tear up. I watch a video of a rendition of my dad’s favorite Righteous Brothers’ song at a friend’s house that they had randomly selected, and you guessed it – watery eyes. Is there a cat in here? Is someone slicing onions? It’s my pine tree allergies!

Honestly, it’s almost like a new calendar has been created. It’s 1 A.D. (After Dad), and there will be many more firsts over the next several months. I read a book recently by the musician Richard Marx called “Stories to Tell” (thank you 2Loud2Old for the recommendation). In a book full of many outstanding stories, I found some of the more poignant moments that connected with me were when Richard spoke about his dad. Richard says that it took him nearly a year to fully process the passing of his father whom he loved and respected very much. I believe him. My wife is in 2 A.D. since my father-in-law passed in March of 2020 and she says she is thinking about him a lot at this time of year as well.

It’s natural to think about our closest loved ones this time of year, and I’ve thought about my dad a lot this Christmas season. One of the few highlights the past few years has been when my wife and I would take he and mom to Christmas Eve Mass.

A lifelong Catholic, my dad attended Mass almost every Sunday and as far as I know never missed a Christmas Eve Mass either. Since they moved here in 2017, neither he nor my mom could drive anymore nor could they really keep up with the correct day and time, so every year my wife and I would pick them up and take them to Christmas Eve Mass. It brought me great pride and joy to be able to provide something so important to he and mom, but especially him. I sat there next to him at Christmas Eve Mass these past few years tearing up a little bit each time knowing that it might be the last one with him. Christmas Eve this year will be very different without him.

“Little baby
Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too
Pa rum pum pum pum”

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs and it reminds me of the Christmas miracle known as the virgin birth of Jesus. It reminds me of humble beginnings and of having very little to offer. Beginning a life in a lowly stable most likely in a field or within a cave-like dwelling doesn’t exactly conjure up images of greatness or significance. Yet, that’s just what occurred some 2000+ years ago – significance in the form of a miracle that changed the course of history. And this song portrays so vividly the little boy who played his drum in honor of that miracle. And he didn’t just play it. He played his best for him.

This is my friend Annie. She sits in the same row as my wife and I just about every Sunday at church. Annie is in her mid 20’s, lives with her mother and father, has a flair for fashion (obviously!), and she has Down Syndrome. Annie can read and she can speak, but her language (or sometimes referred to as expressive language) is not of this world. When she speaks, it is a string of unintelligible words. But Annie also sings, and when she sings, she sings every word clearly and articulately. Is it always in tune? No, but it is still oh so beautiful. I have been around it so much now that I just take it for granted, but it is truly something special.

I’ve seen video and television shows where those with Down’s may be able to speak well and a few that actually sing very well too (an anomaly apparently in the Down’s community). But, I’ve never seen anyone who is unintelligible (expressive language) like Annie when speaking, yet has the receptive language skills to read every word and sing songs every Sunday. There may be some sort of science that explains this phenomenon. I’m not sure. I know very little of this condition, but I am sure if you look hard enough you can find a scientific reasoning for most anything.

I don’t really care if someone has labeled this already. I believe I’m actually a better person not understanding why or how this happens. What I do know is that if ever there were a time to believe in something… to be searching for something to hold onto during a difficult time… to just believe in miracles again… it is this time of year. Maybe you need something to lift your spirit. I do, and I realize that if you’re not looking very hard, then those miracles may be nothing more than stories from long ago that happened so very far away.

But if you’re looking, sometimes those miracles can actually just be a few seats away from you.

“The ox and lamb kept time. Pa rum pum pum pum.”

There are hundreds of different recordings of “The Little Drummer Boy” when you search for it in Spotify. So much that you could listen to the song for hours if you wanted. There is even a version called “The Little Drummer Girl” by Alicia Keys. I’ve listened to versions by The Jackson Five, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Bob Seger, and Josh Groban who all take a stab at the Christmas classic written by American composer Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941, and originally called “Carol of the Drum.”

It was first recorded in 1951 by the Trapp Family, and popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. There is the famous 1977 duet by Bing Crosby and David Bowie from Bing’s final Christmas television special – “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas.” I remember seeing that video numerous times around Christmas time in the 80’s on MTV. Honestly, I’ve never cared for it very much.

I checked out funky versions of the song by The Temptations and Destiny’s Child from 1980 & 2001 respectively. I tried the Lincoln Brewster/KJ-52 version and classic versions by Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis. New Kids on the Block, country superstar Faith Hill and the sisters Jessica and Ashlee Simpson cover it, and vocal powerhous Mandisa does a nice job with a drum line sounding version on her 2008 Christmas album. There’s even a ridiculously bad danceable version by Justin Bieber which features multiple raps by both the Biebs and Busta Rhymes throughout the song from Bieber’s 2011 Christmas album. I told you – I’ve listened to dozens of versions!

As this is predominantly an 80’s blog, I believe I have an 80’s version of the song that I like the best: it is the Joan Jett & The Blackhearts rock version from the early 80’s. The song was actually featured in a very average 1983 movie called “Class” starring Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Jacqueline Bisset and also featured John Cusack and Alan Ruck. The cast was the best thing about the movie, and I did enjoy Joan’s version of “Little Drummer Boy” popping up briefly during the movie.

You can check out her version right here or scroll on down for the cutest version of this song and finally my favorite version of the song…

With apologies to the late Whitney and Bobbi Christina Houston, the cutest version of the song goes to Carrie Underwood and her son Isaiah from Carrie’s 2020 Christmas album “My Gift”…

But my favorite version of the song is a contemporary version by the Australian-born brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone known as the band for King & Country. Ever since I saw this live version performed in 2017, it has easily topped the list for me. So if you want to check it out, here are the two younger brothers to Christian pop singer and songwriter Rebecca St. James, known as the band for King & Country with “Little Drummer Boy”…

Merry Christmas!

Pa rum pum pum pum,

the 80’s

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“Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You”

“Share the joys of laughter and good cheer.” – Billy Squier

Christmas is the time when we do things or say things we may only do once a year or maybe once in a lifetime. It’s a season that brings out the best and the crazy in people. My wife and I watched a documentary on Apple TV+ a few nights ago called “Twas the Fight Before Christmas.” If you want to watch a documentary about a fight over a Christmas display that is still in dispute to this day and will make you shake your head in disbelief and occasionally go “whaaaaatttt?”, then you could do worse than this selection. I won’t give you any spoilers but the main character in question is an attorney and it’s about his right to put on a Christmas display at his house in a neighborhood where the H.O.A. is opposed. There’s more layers to it than just that, but it’s a funny, fascinating, contentious, and at times cringe-worthy documentary.

“Memories of the year that lays behind us
Wishes for the year that’s yet to come
And it stands to reason that good friends in season
Make you feel that life has just begun.”

Speaking of crazy people… Not really, but I was a senior at Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma during Christmas break of 1988-89. My best friend Barry and I had time on our hands and a video camera so we set out to entertain ourselves. We drove by houses decorated in Christmas lights and proceeded to review or “grade” these houses based solely on our own juvenile standards. We thought we were hilarious… and we were! Ok, comedy is highly subjective, but man we did think we were pretty funny at the time degrading the light colors and/or displays at houses throughout Norman. Houses with all red lights were of the devil and representative of hell! See? That’s just an example of how funny we were.

We also made a stop at a local 7-Eleven convenience store, and (in my opinion) it was probably the highlight of the video. I’m glad 7-Eleven is still around. Founded in Dallas in 1927 and originally called “Tote’m Stores,” they changed their name to 7-Eleven in 1946 to match their store hours seven days a week. They were the first convenience store to stay open 24 hours and also first to offer ATM services. I also didn’t have any clue, but there are apparently over 71,000 7-Elevens in 17 countries currently. Kudos to you 7-Eleven! You’ll always have a special place in my youthful heart for your delicious Cherry-flavored Slurpee.

Maybe next year I will post a few of our Christmas light reviews from the same night, but for your immediate Christmastime enjoyment, here is my buddy Barry in his Santa hat taking us all on a little 90 second tour of what a 7-Eleven was like during Christmastime in 1988…

Ninety-nine cent video rentals! Video games! And tell me that’s not Brad Hamilton from Fast Times at Ridgemont High working the register!

“So when spirits grow lighter
And hopes are shinin’ brighter
Then you know that Christmas time is here”

I feel like this song deserved at least 30 more seconds to it, and I feel like it deserves a 2021 remake with as much of the original cast as possible. Why has no one pulled this off? Nonetheless, let us travel back to 1981 just months after the launch of the little cable channel known as MTV on August 1, 1981.

This is truly an 80’s Christmas classic. Written by Billy, it was the B-side to his hit “My Kinda Lover,” here is Squier, the MTV VJ’s (RIP J.J.), and the rest of the MTV crew with “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You”…

Thanks for reading, and oh how I love you, dear reader.

Feel the love and Merry Christmas!

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“I’m a Loc’d Out Gangsta, Set Trippin’ Banger”


“And my homies is down, so don’t arouse my anger” – Coolio

Coolio 1995

If ever any lyrics mirrored my early life, it is … not these. Mind you, I always thought myself to be a bad man when simultaneously spitting the verses from this song in unison with our peculiar-haired author. But in reality, I was nervous in my youth just driving in an unfamiliar suburban neighborhood during the daytime. And I sure wasn’t going anywhere near any hood, wherever the hood was.

This is also a post I’ll subtitle as “Misheard Lyrics Volume 1.” And the reason for that is that I always thought (maybe sub-consciously) Coolio was saying “I’m a loc’d out gangsta, set trippin’ banker.” It made sense to me that he was bragging that he had so much money that he was like a bank. Alas, it’s “banger,” which I guess makes more sense than banker, but I still prefer my version. And why wouldn’t I? As some of you regular readers know, I’ve been in banking for 20+ years, so of course I wanted it to be a “set trippin’ banker!”

There are a few more things I want to unpack with this #1 hit by Coolio from 1995. First of all, you can’t mention this song without its’ almost as equally entertaining parody from Weird Al Yankovich – “Amish Paradise.” Weird Al’s song actually cracked the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #53. Coolio did not appreciate the parody and apparently did not want Al making the song. Al tells the story that Coolio’s record company gave permission, so he proceeded to do so. To his credit, Coolio long ago became ok with Weird Al’s version saying his reasoning for not wanting the parody of his song “one of the least smart things I’ve done over the years.”

“I’m 23 now but will I live to see 24? The way things is going I don’t know.”

This song was released in August of 1995 and I had actually made it to 24 in March of the same year. During this time I was working for a small market top 40 radio station in Macomb, Illinois called K-100. The town of Macomb was mostly comprised of a farming community of about 10,000 people and double that amount during the school year when the Western Illinois University campus was open for business. As a DJ during the midday and on weekends, I had very little choice in the songs that were played. Our program manager still recorded the songs from cds onto giant reels, and we had three reel-to-reel machines in the studio. One reel always had the current top 40 songs. The second reel had “recent hits” that were hits within the last year and then the third reel may have had hits from 1-5 years earlier. We had a cd player in the studio also for random things like pre-recorded shows such as “Backtrax U.S.A. with Kid Kelly,” or the top 40 countdown or movie trivia contests and such.

These are similar to what we had in our studio at K-100.

We had cd’s that came in the mail every week with current hit songs and cds that had songs that were “on the rise.” But, we rarely played songs directly from the cds because our program director cut the ones we were to play onto the reels. At least every third song had to be played from our current hits reel, and so it was that my ears bled with every Hootie song that came up (and Hootie was HUGE during this time) sandwiched in between Dave Matthews’ “What Would You Say?” and Del Amitri’s “Roll to Me.” The pop hits of 1994-95 will forever be time-stamped into my memory.

“Power and the money, money and the power. Minute after minute, hour after hour”

My final shift at the radio station occurred on a Saturday in late August of ’95. I had the 3pm to midnight shift at which time the station would go on auto-pilot until the Sunday morning programming began. By this time, I had heard Coolio’s new song and was hooked. Unfortunately, our middle-aged white program director at the time had nothing like this in the rotation yet. To be fair, it wasn’t in the top 40 yet (it was barely a blip on top 40 radio), but in the year I had worked at the station we had never played a rap song of any kind. It all changed that Saturday night.

I’d like to spin some awesome tale about how the powers-that-be had to come down to the radio station and escort me out after I had played not one, but TWO rap songs between 11 pm and midnight! It didn’t happen, but what were they going to do? Fire me? I had played the friendlier, more radio-ready (and still one of my all-time favorite 90’s rap songs) “I Wish” by Skee-Lo sometime after 11, and then finished my shift by playing “Gangsta’s Paradise” just before midnight. I do remember the phone in the station rang during the song, and I remember thinking that it was going to be the program director or maybe even the station owner calling to chew me out. So I went gangsta mode again, and instead of boldly answering, I just let it ring. Phone? What phone? I don’t hear it. Nobody here to answer it anyway. Nope. Everyone is gone.

And so my short stint in top 40 radio came to an end that night. There were no repercussions, no angry phone calls the next day, no blurb in the local newspaper about my daring song selection. Heck, it went totally unnoticed as far as I know. But I’d like to think that there were people surprisingly pleased around midnight that Saturday when Coolio hit the airwaves for the first time in the small town.

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothin’ left.”

I find it interesting that Coolio quotes from the Bible with his first line – a nod to Psalm 23, which apparently just came out as Coolio heard the beat from Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” and just started writing.

It became Billboards Hot 100’s top song of 1995 – a first for a rap song. It also topped the charts in 16 countries. It earned Coolio a Grammy for best rap performance as well. Here is “Gangsta’s Paradise”…

And of course, what would this post be without Weird Al’s parody, “Amish Paradise”…

Thanks for reading.

sincerely,

your set trippin’ banker

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“To Dance the Bamba, to Dance the Bamba”

“You need a little bit of grace.” – Ritchie Valens

UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 01: Photo of Ritchie Valens (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Did you know this was the English translation to the first few lines of the song “La Bamba”? Neither did I. If you said you did, then you lie! Or maybe you’re bilingual or maybe you’re just a huge Ritchie Valens fan. Whatever.

“La Bamba” was the only non-English song to appear in Rolling Stone’s list of 500 greatest songs of all time (#354) back in 2004 (alas, it was dropped from the list when the 2021 version was released in September). Though Valens was born in California, his parents were both of Mexican descent. And that fact is kind of how I ended up with this post-Halloween blog post. It’s really nothing but a cultural connection of sorts.

There is some dispute as to where they originated, but it cannot be denied that our culture owes much of today’s festive use of pinatas at parties to the Hispanic community. Many will say that the most similar use of pinatas in our society today can be traced back to their origins in Mexico for use specifically in evangelism.

As for when human pinatas were introduced, well that may be up for debate… human pinatas you say?

Yes, that is myself and my wife at our church’s “Trunk or Treat” event this past Sunday dressed as human pinatas. We allowed the children to “hit” us lightly with a foam sword that didn’t really hurt, but a few of them took some mighty swings at us anyway. Thankfully, there were no bruises, scrapes or cuts of any kind though my feet and legs were worn out after two hours of spinning and dancing and throwing out candy for hundreds of children who showed up.

Only one or two small children were scared and cried at the colorful sight of our costumes. It’s possible we caused some sort of scary psychedelic visual for some, or we could have been the cause of seizures for others, but the laughter and smiles we elicited from most made all of the pain of getting out of bed Monday morning totally worth it.

“I`m not a sailor. I`m not a sailor, I`m a captain. I`m a captain, I`m a captain.”

Richard Steven Valenzuela was well on his way to becoming a captain of the Chicano Rock movement when he perished in that fatal plane crash in Iowa in February of 1959 at only 17 years of age. The crash also claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and the pilot, Roger Peterson. Seventeen years old.

If you’ve seen the movie or know anything about the accident, then you know that Valens was only on the plane because he won a coin-toss against Holly’s back-up guitarist, Tommy Allsup. Richardson was on the plane because he was ill with the flu, and Holly’s basist, Waylon Jennings (yes, that Waylon Jennings), voluntarily gave up his seat on the three passenger Beechcraft Bonanza that Holly had chartered.

Then little-known-actor Lou Diamond Phillips portrayed Valens in the 1987 movie, and he makes an appearance in the video for the song which I had long forgotten about. It was kind of cool to see him pop up in this video back in 1987 since my wife and I have been watching him on a series called “Longmire” on Netflix for the past few months (the series ran for six seasons from 2011-2017).

Anyway, here is the band Los Lobos with a song that spent 15 weeks on the charts and only reached #22 back in 1959 for Valens, but became a #1 hit for “The Wolves.” From the soundtrack of the movie by the same name in 1987, it is the irresistible dance groove of “La Bamba”…

Thanks for reading, and if you ever have a go at a human pinata, please go easy with your swing.

sincerely,

the 80’s

Matthew 19:14

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“When the Night Has Come”

“And the land is dark. And the moon is the only light we’ll see.” – Ben E. King

Happy fall, ya’ll. That’s what us southern folk like to say around these here parts. I was at a good ol’ southern wedding here in Arkansas a few weeks ago, and this is a picture of the band that performed! Just kidding of course, but the bride and groom had their first dance to the song “Stand By Me.” I was glad to hear the song though it wasn’t the 1961 Ben E. King original playing over the speaker system, but instead a newer version from 2018 sung by Skylar Grey. The song is a beautiful song and always appropriate for a wedding.

The song also represents the title of a great 80’s coming-of-age movie. It’s been 35 years since the movie “Stand by Me” hit the theaters in August of 1986. It’s probably been that long since I watched the movie in its’ entirety until recently. I had never read the Stephen King novella from which the movie was based called “The Body,” so I decided to purchase it on my Ipad and read it. The book has a few differences and more character development as you’d expect. There were definitely parts in the book that I liked and made more sense than they did in the movie and there were parts of the movie that I liked better than in the book. The one thing about reading the book after having seen the movie first is that you had a better visual for who was talking since the movie was so well-known for its’ all-star cast. Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix (R.I.P.), Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, John Cusack, and Richard Dreyfuss anchor the 80’s classic set in 1959 (yes, prior to Ben E. King’s song), and featuring music from that era.

“I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being. It happened in the summer of 1959, a long time ago, but only if you measure in terms of years. I was living in a small town in Oregon called Castle Rock. There were only twelve hundred and eighty-one people. But to me, it was the whole world.” – Narrator Gordie (Richard Dreyfuss

I was living in a small town in Oklahoma called Seminole (population was about 8,000 so I don’t guess it was that small) when I was 12 and I had a group of buddies that would have done this very thing. We would have traversed miles through the woods and along train tracks to see a dead body. The closest thing we had though were woods behind our elementary school where you could ride your bike and you might occasionally stumble upon a passed-out drunk, but no dead bodies. And the furthest we ever walked was probably the one mile trek from my house to the local Wal-Mart. My best friend at the time, Brandon, and I would put what little money we had or could beg from our parents in our pockets and start off for the nearest place with video games, which was Wal-Mart. Besides the Pac Man and Donkey Kong machines, the toy and music sections also held strong allures for our 11 and 12 year old desires. This was a time when Star Wars action figures were still really popular. I could also buy baseball cards at Wal-Mart and I owned a Sony Walkman so the music section was always of interest as well. I still have the cassettes of Men At Work and The Cars I bought there along with the 45’s of REO Speedwagon, Steve Perry, and Prince for my record player when I couldn’t afford the cassette.

I mowed many-a-lawn listening to Men at Work on one of these.

Brandon and I would often play a game on our walk where we would hide from the cars driving by like they were vehicles hired to find and destroy two 12-year-olds whose sole mission was to arrive at our destination safely and save the earth or some such scenario. Because our path to Wal-Mart involved following a few streets, it was difficult to find places to hide on occasion. Sometimes it was behind trees and sometimes we’d lay in a shallow drainage ditch on the side of the street. There was a stretch the closer you got to Walmart where there wasn’t anywhere to hide so sometimes we’d sprint that wide-open short distance. The final part was the steep hill down to Walmart. It was a kid’s dream to eventually sled that hill during the winter, but it was too heavily driven and too dangerous for kids to go flying down on sleds lest they run into a car or skid all the way onto Milt Phillips Avenue which was also the highway that ran through Seminole. Occasionally though if Brandon and I could find some cardboard behind Wal-Mart we would use that to slide down the hill right next to the street.

At the end of the movie, the narrator (Dreyfuss) says: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?

When you’re 12, a day can seem like an eternity and your friends seem like they’ll be with you forever. As we get older, most of us realize our 12-year-old friends often drift away like dreams that we’re not sure ever really happened. Most of us are rarely in contact with those same friends as the years turn from 12 into 30, 40, or 50. But if we’re lucky we might have a picture or two that reminds us of those times, and just maybe one or two of those friends might stick.


“Do you think I’m weird?” – Gordie (Wil Wheaton)
“Definitely. Yeah, but so what. Everybody’s weird.” – Chris (River Phoenix)

My “Stand By Me” crew back in 1983, and we definitely would have gone in search of a dead body back then. That’s Brandon front and center in the green jacket and me back row far right.

“Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me.”

Mickey Gilley turned today’s song into a #1 country hit on the heels of the “Urban Cowboy” movie, and there have been numerous cover versions through the years, but like they say – there’s nothing like the original. So check out the remastered version and this 80’s video which I have no recollection of that features then 48 year-old Ben E. King as well as movie co-stars Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix.

King’s version of the song broke the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 in two different decades reaching #4 in 1961 and then re-entering the charts and peaking at #9 in December of 1986. Here is “Stand By Me”

And just for comparison, here is the 2018 Skylar Grey version which actually appeared in a Budweiser commercial for Super Bowl LII (with proceeds going to the American Red Cross)…

And in case you’re wondering about that Mickey Gilley #1 countrified version, here it is as well…

Thanks for reading.

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“A Long December and There’s Reason to Believe”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is crows.png

One of my all-time favorite tweets came from The Counting Crows on January 1 of this year (see above). Unfortunately, 2021 really hasn’t been better. I lost a dad. I lost a co-worker. I had friends who lost relatives. And if you’re looking at it from a health perspective, the COVID situation isn’t any better. It’s still continuing to do damage to families and businesses while overloading hospitals, health clinics and simultaneously dividing families and countries.

We’re almost to October, and one thing that is kind of back to normal is the fact that you can now attend sporting events and concerts once again, even with the pandemic still in full force. It’s kind of like people all over the world just said ‘I’m tired of being locked inside and scared, and I’m not doing it anymore. It’s time to start living again, virus be damned!’

So with this pervasive attitude, I found myself and a few thousand others sans mask at a Counting Crows concert last Saturday. It was the first concert I’ve been to since pre-COVID. You had to show either your full vaccination card or a negative test within 48 hours to be able to enter the Walmart Amphitheater here in Rogers, AR. I’m sure that requirement did keep some away, and The Amp was not sold out by any means, but for the most part, the good seats were filled, and there were a number of people in the lawn area too.

Dreadlock-less and now 57, Adam Duritz and his band Counting Crows launched into nearly two hours of music on a perfect Saturday evening. I wouldn’t say I’m an enormous Counting Crows fan, but I (along with millions of others) have been somewhat hooked since the release of their outstanding debut, “August and Everything After” in 1991. “Mr. Jones,” “Rain King,” and “Round Here” were in constant rotation on my cd player back then. And through the years, I would hear a new Crows song and it would bounce into my consciousness for a while, and I’d think “good on Adam and the boys for continuing to put out good and interesting songs.”

2021 Adam Duritz

“And it’s one more day up in the canyon
And it’s one more night in Hollywood
It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean I guess I should”

And it’s one more night in Rogers, Arkansas, and I’ve never seen the Counting Crows… I guess I should. Na na na na, na na na na… Like I said, not the biggest fan, and probably won’t ever see them play again, but that should not diminish their impressive resume’ and longevity. I’m glad I got to see them perform and see what Adam Duritz was like live as a frontman for arguably one of the biggest bands of the 90’s. Heck it was fun just being around live music, and I even enjoyed the four drunk 30-somethings that sat directly behind me and knew all the lyrics to every song. (Actual interaction with one of them early into the Crows’ set: “Dude (young guy talking to me), if I spill anything on you just punch me in the face. Seriously, punch me in the face.”

The Counting Crows are touring in support of their latest EP, “Butter Miracle Suite One.” They played all four of those songs of which “Bobby and the Rat-Kings” is my favorite. I’ve always been a sucker for a story that just happens to be a good song. The song reminds me of something like Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” mixed with Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” with a distinct Counting Crows flare.

Duritz has publicly spoken about (and given interviews) about his dissociative mental disorder which (the best I can understand) makes him feel disconnected from people and the world in general at times like he’s really not there and he’s watching someone else’s life. It sounds like he’s lived through some very dark days and continues to battle it on a daily basis though he’s in a better place now than he was years ago.

He seemed very genuine towards the end of the show though when he spoke about the affect COVID has had on he and the band and not being able to play any live shows for nearly two years. He said how he missed the interaction, the connection with people, and was very happy to be performing again, and I believe him. Though he no longer has those signature dreads (he always thought it was silly that people found his hair style fascinating), at 57 he looked healthy and happy and at this time in our history, I can appreciate that.

And maybe next year will be better than the last.

“I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin’
Now the days go by so fast”

I know I’ve stepped into the 90’s, but as I was thinking about Duritz and the Crows, I remembered that Duritz was in the news many years ago for dating Jennifer Aniston for a short time. But I must have totally forgotten or missed the part where he also dated Courtney Cox as well? (Insert your Lisa Kudrow joke here if you want). In fact, Cox appears in the music video for today’s featured song released in December of 1996. Appearing twelve years after her debut in Bruce Springsteen’s video “Dancing in the Dark,” (she also appeared in a Toad the Wet Sprocket video in ’95) here is Courtney Cox starring with Adam Duritz and the band named after a British nursery rhyme – it’s Counting Crows with one of my favorites of theirs – “A Long December…”

And now, “A Long December” 2021, in Rogers, AR. No Courtney Cox sightings though you get to see a few of the aforementioned drunk 30-somethings enter into my shot. They had by now moved from behind me to seats in front of me, but we make it through the concert without any punches to the face being thrown by yours truly.

Thanks for reading.

sincerely,

the 80’s… err, 90’s

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“Is It All in That Pretty Little Head of Yours?”

“What goes on in that place in the dark?” – Elvis Costello

Yesterday morning I walked in the annual “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.” They didn’t have it last year. COVID you know. It was a short walk that lasted all of about 20 minutes. It was a beautiful 80 degree Saturday morning, and fluffy white cumulous clouds walked aimlessly along with us as they floated overhead across the bright blue sky.

The starting area was littered with sponsor tents and colored flower pinwheels as people in matching t-shirts and a few dogs mingled about. There was even a local DJ bumping out tunes, and it wasn’t lost on me at all when he cued up the Aerosmith Run-DMC 1986 collaboration “Walk This Way” when the walk officially kicked off at 10.

I mentioned the flowered pinwheels that were present for anyone who was walking or somehow involved in the event. The different colors of the pinwheels are all symbolic: a purple one means you lost someone to Alzheimer’s; yellow means you’re a caregiver to someone suffering from Alzheimer’s; blue means you’re suffering from Alzheimer’s; orange means you support the Alzheimer’s Association; and the newest flower – the white one (introduced in the last few years) represents the future – a cure to Alzheimer’s.

I walked alongside the Grand Brook Memory Care team which takes care of my mom, who suffers from the disease. They’re wonderful people. In the past, they’ve had their residents participate in the walks as well. But not last year or this year – COVID again. I think about how hard it must be to work in a memory care facility with people that don’t even remember your name. These workers are constantly just making sure that someone’s loved one eats a meal, or showers or gets dressed in their own clothes. Takes a special kind of someone is all I know.

I joked that I was going to sprint instead of walk so I could finish 1st. As you can see, I did finish… just barely in front of Grand Brook worker Levi and his dog. Levi finished first in our who has the better beard contest though.

It’s been a slow progression for my mom dating back the better part of five or six years. There were signs even before that, but it’s just been the last few years where it has gotten to the point of full-time care, and it was one of the key factors in moving her and my dad to Rogers from their home in Norman, Oklahoma in October of 2017.

Yesterday was also mom’s 75th birthday. Fitting I suppose. After the walk I stopped by Grand Brook to see her, and wish her a happy birthday which I’m sure she had forgotten about even before I left. We sat there and bounced around the years while listening to some 50’s music. She can remember every lyric to every 50’s hit, but she can’t remember what she had for breakfast or even what she was doing five minutes before I showed up. What a strange and twisted disease.

Mom’s birthday 1980 something

We sat in the courtyard and talked about the weather… numerous times. She remarked on several occasions how big the clouds were. She asked me how work was multiple times. She wondered what the inside of “the home” (as she calls Grand Brook) looked like and did I want to come inside. I had to tell her repeatedly that it’s colder inside and much more comfortable outside (which was definitely true). I’ve gotten used to the repetitive nature. It doesn’t make it any easier though. It just makes it different. You really have to spend time with a dementia patient to understand.

My favorite are doctor visits. I took her to the dentist on Friday for a routine cleaning. I know somewhere in the chart at the dentist is something about dementia. There has to be as many times as I’ve taken her there. Yet I’m not even surprised anymore when the hygienist starts in with her questioning to my mom – have you been flossing regularly? Do you used waxed floss? Do you have an electric toothbrush? All questions which my mom answered… incorrectly. I honestly just sat in the corner smiling to myself and reading my emails on my phone. You can choose to get mad or just choose to try and find some humor in a time where nothing seems very funny at all. I don’t always choose the latter, but I did Friday.

So for the better part of an hour, mom and I sat in our rocking chairs watching clouds, and birds, and butterflies float in the breeze. Occasionally, a resident would wander out and walk around the pathways. While I watched a few of these Grand Brook residents, I began to wonder what kind of lives they used to lead. I wondered what this terrible disease robbed them of, and what kinds of challenges their families have faced. Probably not a lot unlike my journey or yours or anyone else’s that has been touched by Alzheimer’s. Now though, these residents just wander, many with blank looks on their faces lost in an every-changing world of their own, searching… searching for something… searching for a cure.

“Well she used to have a care free mind of her own With devilish look in her eye
Saying “You can call me anything you like,
But my name is Veronica”

In 1989 Elvis Costello released the track “Veronica” which he co-wrote along with Paul McCartney, who also contributed with bass play on the song. The name “Veronica” was Elvis’ grandmother Molly’s Catholic confirmation name. She suffered from Alzheimer’s.

There’s a short interview with Elvis before the video starts and at one point he says “you just sit there and bounce around the years with her.” Anyone with someone who has dementia can completely relate.

So let’s bounce around back to February of 1989 when Costello released this song. It was Costello’s highest charting single reaching #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. This video also won a Best Male video award for Costello.

“And you could try to work out what was going on in her head. But I think it’s something we don’t understand. Not yet, anyway.” – Elvis Costello

It doesn’t seem like much has changed since Elvis made this song and video some 30 plus years ago. There have been promising developments but at a seemingly snail’s pace. Pray for a cure and donate if you can.

Thanks for reading and maybe one day my mom will hold the white flower.

sincerely,

the 80’s

Mom’s birthday 2021. In this family, no one walks alone.

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“Each Day As I Grow Older”

“The nights are getting colder. Someday the sun will shine on me.” – Frankie Valli

I started this blog as a way to capture memories and sometimes random thoughts and occasionally dedications. My dad passed away about 12 days ago late one rainy August evening. I’ve been struggling to find the beauty in death. The beauty is there if you frame it correctly. If you see the right things in your mind’s eye or say the right things to yourself. I’m not alone in the struggle, and I also understand that it’s a struggle that goes back to the beginning of mankind.

In many regards, we are simply vessels that carry memories, stories, incidents, and random happenstance with us wherever we go. When a friend or loved one passes on, those memories and stories are scattered among everyone who knew the person. They’re all different, they’re all unique, and they all serve as constant reminders of days gone by, and how quickly those days can go. Honestly, it’s depressingly beautiful to think about.

I think when a parent passes especially, there is a sense of one’s own mortality that creeps in and says “you’re next.” A little bit of that bulletproof glass vanishes, because logically it makes sense for us to view the order of passing generationally. Even though none of us is guaranteed tomorrow, when the generation in front of you starts vanishing then it’s hard not to think that your time is coming at you faster than you want it to.

“Money, I don’t have any
I’m down to my last penny
But darlin’ don’t cry over me.”

My dad’s visitation and viewing is over, the funeral mass has concluded, and the graveside burial is complete. The commotion, the busyness, the stories, the talks, and the friends and family have all departed. The sound of silence has set in. Too dramatic? Probably.

I feel like my wife has held me together with her love and a roll of duct tape the past 6-8 weeks. She asked me what I was feeling last night to which I replied “I’m kind of just here.” Probably not what she wanted to hear. I did tell her this was the first day I hadn’t cried in about three weeks so I guess that’s something to build on. Things don’t seem real. Even as I type these words, my concentration is weak, and my ability to focus or become motivated to work are sorely lacking right now.

It helps to get lost in episodes of “Longmire” or “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It helps to listen to music or sit on my back patio and watch the 4-6 hummingbirds zip from feeder to feeder defending their turf while chattering away at each other in stern hummingbird lingo. It helps to tap away on the MacBook Air keyboard. And it helps that my wife just sits with me sometimes not speaking a word, yet saying everything in the moment.

I’m looking forward to a beach somewhere once I get past the bills and the paperwork and the insurance and everything that goes along with dying. Who knew dying was so time-consuming and so expensive?

Things will get better. I am sure of this. The nights are already getting better. But there are just times right now when I don’t want it to. I want to soak in the pain just a little longer because it just feels like if I’m happy then that will somehow mean I am forgetting, and thus starting to care a little less. Pretty stupid reasoning. I know this too, and so does every person that has lost a loved one.

It’s a valley right now and it doesn’t feel like I’m going to walk out onto the top of a mountain and into the vibrant sunlight at any moment. No, I feel much more like it’s going to be cloudy and overcast for the foreseeable future. Better grab my umbrella and forge ahead.

Still looks like rain.

“Big man in town
I’m gonna make it, just wait and see
Oh, I’m gonna make it, just wait and see.”

My dad loved the Jersey Boys musical and album. After all, he was a Jersey boy at heart having grown up on the Jersey shore one of six Irish-Catholic siblings where he became one of the greatest athletes in the shore area back in the 50’s. He was definitely a big man in town along the shore area. He was a big man in town in New Orleans where he starred at Tulane University. He was a big man in town at every stop along the way in his wonderful life.

And now, he’s a new big man in town somewhere above the stars and clouds. Up where the sun is shining. Here’s to you, dad.

Thanks for reading.

Early 80’s with dad and my sister, Kari.

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“Love is Not a Cage. Love is Not a Path”

“Love’s a steady hand waiting for the storm to pass.” – NEEDTOBREATHE

When you sit in a nursing home room with someone under hospice care you notice everything. The loose handle on the large brown portable clothes closet. The dead battery in the clock hung on the wall forever stuck at 7:07. The well-worn sitting chair upholstered in vintage 70’s stripes. The glitch in the cable tv feed that annoyingly causes the picture to stall from time to time. Did Bryce Harper just hit a double or a dribbler to first base? Buffering…

You study the barren beige walls covered with only a monthly events calendar, and you notice the scratches on the dark wood vinyl floors that have housed many in room 108 before him. And then there are the windows. Empty bird feeders hang outside a few of the windows around the facility, and a few random squirrels scamper about. It’s not a serene beach view, but the windows look out onto a green lawn and green trees dancing in the distance. The windows promise a better tomorrow so sometimes I walk over to them and just stand there gazing. I stare out looking at everything and nothing at the same time.

“From my shallow grave, I’ve prayed to find the strength to crawl, the strength to climb.”

They say eyes are windows to the soul. Well my dad’s empty stare and gaping mouth makes me wonder what he sees now. He can’t speak anymore and I know I’ll never have another conversation this side of existence with him about overpaid athletes, or the finer points of a full court man to man press. But I just wonder what those eyes see now when he stares over my shoulder and out the window or stares up at the white ceiling seemingly oblivious to his surroundings.

His current condition is somewhere on the finality scale between sadness and heartbreak. He always said he didn’t want to die in a nursing home, yet here he is after gravity took a knock at his shoulder added to multiple heart surgeries, cancer, and mini-strokes. Cumulatively they have taken a toll on his mind and his body. They’ve turned my hero into a bed-ridden hospice patient waiting on a merciless clock forever stuck at 7:07.

When I visit, I only have so many words. So many well wishes from friends and family and stories to relay and tell. Then, I’m done and we sit in silence as I cue up some of his favorites on my Spotify app on my phone. Yesterday it was The Righteous Brothers, today Motown hits of the 50’s and 60’s, and tomorrow feels like a Kenny Rogers sort of day. I feel bad when I don’t have anything to say that I haven’t said already. It’s like I think that something I’m going to say is magically going to make him rise again like Lazarus and we’ll have another 10 or 15 years to discuss the finer points of pre-flop raises with suited connectors at a poker table. I wonder if the the smile and laugh I saw yesterday is the last one I’m going to see. I’m not ready to say goodbye, but in a way I’ve been preparing for this moment for the last four years since my wife and I moved my mom and dad to NW Arkansas from their retirement home in Norman, Oklahoma. Maybe I was hoping for a better ending. One where he didn’t have to spend the last weeks of his life apart from his wife of 52 years alone surrounded by unfamiliar walls and nurses spoon-feeding him his meds mixed in applesauce.

“Up to the surface, untie my hands. Sorrow had a purpose but it’s time to stand.”

Still I peer into those once vibrant blue eyes that burned with passion and intensity and love. What are they seeing now? Do they just see the same barren walls or ceilings I see? Are the seconds like hours and the minutes like days to him at this point, or are those eyes seeing something entirely else. Maybe they see his parents who have long been deceased or his two brothers that both left their earthly bodies too early in life. Are they seeing his former Tulane University or Phillips 66ers teammates? Do they see his coaching friends that have gone before him in the past 12 months – friends like Jerry Jobe and Billy Tubbs? Is he having conversations with these people in an alternate universe right now? Or do his eyes see anything at all?

If I’m being honest, I have alternating feelings of sadness, anger, and pain. There are times when I have to muster courage just to drive over and sit in this room with him. It seems ridiculous, but those times of avoidance are laden with guilt and shame though I know I have nothing to feel shameful about. But I still feel it. It’s a constant struggle of guilt and shame against those of duty and obligation. The latter two ultimately being driven by love. It’s love that wins, but it’s a game that’s always played at different times and lengths. Love always wins, but much like I always knew the Harlem Globetrotters were going to beat the Washington Generals, the how of it was usually the mystery in it.

“Whatever you do, I will be there. Son, I will follow you anywhere. Into the mystery.”

One of my favorite new songs of 2021 is a song about love and about knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles. Written and sung beautifully as always by Bear Rhinehart of the South Carolina band NEEDTOBREATHE, the song is called “Into the Mystery.” Bear talks about the song’s meaning from an angle of supporting your children as they grow and figure out things in life. I also think the song is for anyone who feels alone right now.

I’ve had the song in my head the past few days and it has brought me comfort as I’ve thought about my dad and what those eyes of his are seeing now. I’ve thought about his support for me, for my sister, for my mom and for all of his friends and players through the years. I’ve thought about his laugh and all those places and things that those eyes have seen over 81 well-lived years. Soon they’ll see his parents and two brothers again, and they’ll see countless teammates and coaching friends. One day not too far in the distance they’ll see his completely healed wife as well. His pain will soon be over and he’ll leave that pain here for his family and friends to absorb. So I pray for my dad right now. I pray for mercy for that skinny kid from the Jersey shore, and I pray that his empty stare and his eyes are seeing something other than a blank wall or a white ceiling right now. I pray the eyes to his soul are staring right now deep into the mystery. If you need comfort right now, I hope this song brings you some as well.

Thank you NEEDTOBREATHE for a beautiful song, and thank you dear reader for reading.

Dad and I spring 1984

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