“Sometimes in Our Lives We All Have Pain”

“We all have sorrow.” – Bill Withers

Bill Withers, Hall of Fame Soul Singer, Dead at 81 - Rolling Stone

Remember 2016 when famous musicians like Glenn Frey and Prince and Bowie and George Michael all passed away?  And 2016 didn’t think that was enough musical firepower so it added Leon Russell and Merle Haggard and then it decided to add legends Muhammad Ali and Arnold Palmer for good measure.  Remember how we thought 2016 was a year that truly sucked like no other?

Enter the year with a number that represents “normal visual acuity.”  Enter 2020 and a year that is the furthest from normal it can possibly be.  This year came in like a bully at a small-stakes, friendly, neighborhood poker game – ‘I see your 2016 and I’ll raise you a shut-down economy and death.  Nothing has sucked quite like this.  Nothing.

“If there is a load you have to bear.  That you can’t carry.  I’m right up the road.  I’ll share your load.”

Many of you that know me or have read on here before know that I am a banker by day – more specifically a commercial lender.  As such, I’ve been deemed an “essential critical infrastructure worker.”  I have a letter and everything in my car just in case I am pulled over.  Arkansas (as of this writing) is one of very few states that does not have a stay-at-home mandate in place yet, so we’ll see if I ever have to actually use this letter, but I have it nonetheless.

With the passage of the recent CARES Act, $349 billion in funding was given to the SBA (Small Business Administration) for the PPP (Payroll Protection Program) loan.  That’s a lot of letters and a lot of money.  As such, the race was on by banks as we tried to figure out how to process the numerous requests to come on a first come, first serve basis.  By the end of last Friday (the first day the program), over $4 billion had been taken, and that did not include any funding to the large banks like Chase or Wells or Citi.  The funds will probably disappear quickly, and because of that, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin recently announced he had bi-partisan support for another $250B to add to the PPP for if and when the 349 runs out.

I spent all day Saturday and all day Sunday in my office at the bank answering phone calls and emails and texts, pouring over applications and documentation, and inputting loan data into SBA’s portal for struggling local businesses.  All very boring numbers stuff.  It’s not near as important as those doctors, nurses, and first responders on the front line saving lives, but bankers are essentially the front line in helping to keep the economy moving, and for that I’m proud of what all bankers are doing across the country during this time.

“You just call on me brother, when you need a hand.  We all need somebody to lean on.”

It’s a trying time right now – physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Scam artists are out there taking advantage of a weakened economy and scared people.  Families and friends are separated from each other.  People are dying and families can’t even lay them to rest under normal burial circumstances.  I don’t need to add to this list, but yes, small businesses need someone to lean on right now as well.  They’re shutting their doors, laying off workers, and many are at a loss as to whether they ever re-open their business again.  These loans are meant as a temporary band aid.  Two and a half times your average monthly payroll as a maximum loan amount to hopefully get them through the next 60 days and the worst of this economic nose dive.

So, as best you can, support your local business right now.  They need it.  We need it as a country.  And then let’s stand up and kick 2020’s ass just like we would against any other bully.  This bully is a bad one, a bad mo-fo – the worst one most of us have ever seen.  I’m tired of hearing the infection and death toll counts, and I’m trying to do my part as best I can – at a safe and reasonable distance confined mostly to my home and my bank office with one thing in mind:  Bullies don’t last, and neither will this one.

“But if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow”

It seems very appropriate to feature today’s video during this time, and also given the recent passing of today’s artist – Bill Withers.  Even though the song (released in 1972) was his only #1 hit on both the Soul Singles and the Billboard Hot 100, it was 1987 when Bill actually won a Grammy for being the writer of the song.  The group Club Nouveau took Bill’s song and turned it into a number one hit again that year on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the dance charts.

The pride of Slab Fork, West Virginia, here is the late Bill Withers and his sweet soulful voice singing “Lean On Me…”

Just call on me, brother when you need a hand.

R.I.P. Bill Withers

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Swear We’ve Been Through Everything There Is”

“Can’t imagine anything we’ve missed.” – Kenny Rogers

Image result for kenny rogers 1980's

Full disclosure – I love Kenny Rogers.  Maybe not as much as some of his fanatics (I know one or two), but I still loved the man.  I’ve featured two of his songs/videos on this site before, but I’m dedicating this post to him given the fact that the man born Kenneth Ray Rogers in Houston, Texas just recently passed away at the age of 81.

I owe my parents for my love of his music because they played it all the time around our house.  They had a lot of his albums, and Kenny had a lot of hits – more than 120 of them according to Wiki.  I wish I had seen him in concert.  I never did, but I know my parents saw him numerous times especially in their annual trips to Las Vegas in the 80’s and 90’s.  I know they had “The Gambler” and his “Greatest Hits” albums.  I think they may have had a few others as well, but I vividly remember these two 33’s.

Kenny Rogers Fan Club Membership Benefits Card/ Pin image 0 (I was never this big of a fanatic, but I still loved Kenny, his awesome hair, beard, voice, and music)

My childhood friend Scott Morris and I once re-wrote all the lyrics to Kenny Rogers’ classic “Coward of the County.”  I still remember a lot of them today – “but folks just called him purple” instead of “folks just called him yellow,” “he let ’em have a Coke” instead of “he let ’em have it all,” and “Son, my life is over but yours has just begun” to “Son, my life is over, and yours is going quick.”  Such deep song-writing from the minds of pre-teens!

I never had any of his chicken (Kenny had a chain of “Kenny Rogers Roasters),” but I so appreciated the “Seinfeld” episode that featured Kramer and his love of Kenny’s chicken.  Kramer’s disdain for the Roasters neon sign that came through his window every day forced such an issue that Kramer briefly switched apartments with Jerry during the episode.  Alas though, Kenny never made an appearance in the episode.

In honor of a wonderful, brilliant career, here are my top 7 favorite Kenny songs:

#7  “I Can’t Unlove You” (2005) – A late career classic!  I thought this song was just vintage Kenny when the 66 year-old Rogers peaked at #17 on the country charts in 2005 with this song.  It was his highest charting country single since 1999’s “Buy Me a Rose” with Alison Krauss, and is my favorite post 80’s Rogers’ song.

#6 “Lady” (1980) –  Lionel Richie + Kenny Rogers = #1 hit.  Written by Lionel Richie after he left The Commodores, this song was the first song of the 80’s to chart on all four of Billboard magazine’s charts – Country (#1), Hot 100 (#1), A/C (#1), and Soul Singles (#42).

Image result for kenny rogers 1980's

#5  “Through the Years” (1982) – I can’t be the only one who wants to put massive photo slideshows together with this song playing in the background.  Truth-be-told, I have one that I put together of my parents shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary that is still not quite finished.  I consider it “still in production,” and I consider this Rogers’ song one of the all-time quintessential songs about the passage of time.

#4  “Islands in the Stream” (1983 w/ Dolly Parton) – Named after the Earnest Hemingway novel and written by the Bee Gees, this Kenny-Dolly duet hit #1 on the Hot 100, the A/C, and the Country charts.  Just being honest, but for an adolescent pre-teen, the highlight of this song was anytime it was on TV and Dolly was on stage with him.

#3  “We’ve Got Tonight” (1982 w/ Sheena Easton) – my favorite Kenny duet features Sheena Easton (sorry Dolly!).  This was before Sheena hooks up with Prince and starts singing songs about strutting, putting out, and her “Sugar Walls.”  Argue with me if you will, but I won’t back down on this one!  I posted this video on a post about my parents love of Kenny Rogers and my dad’s comments about the 2017 CMA’s.

#2  “The Gambler” (1978) – the song that taught American kids like me all about playing poker.  Well, maybe not completely, but it taught me there would be times I would need to hold ’em and times I would need to fold ’em.  The song has become part of our culture over the years.  Not many times go by that these lyrics don’t pop in my head when I’m playing poker.

Honorable mention:  “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer” (1980 duet w/ Kim Carnes), “Coward of the County” (1979), and “Daytime Friends” (1977)

And my favorite…

#1  “Love Will Turn You Around” (1982) – This song from the movie “Six Pack” starring Kenny as a race car driver was featured on this site in a post dedicated to my grandma turning 100 , and how she was slightly mortified at all of the cussing in this PG movie that her and my mom took me to at the age of 11.  This song hit #1 on both the Country and the A/C charts and peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“The sweetest days I’ve found, I’ve found with you.  Through the years.”

You had a lot of sweet days, Kenny.  And you’ll always have this sweet song.  Here is Kenny in concert singing “Through the Years…”

R.I.P Kenny.

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Eighties”

“I’m living in the eighties!” – Killing Joke

Image result for killing joke 80's

I just watched “The Breakfast Club” again last night – the whole thing… on DVD (30th Anniversary Edition)… in one sitting.  I know I haven’t watched the whole unedited version since the 80’s.  I’ve seen bits and pieces on cable tv numerous times through the years, and  I’ve written about the movie before on this site, because it was the first R-rated movie I ever snuck into as a 13 year-old growing up in Norman, Oklahoma.  Plus, the theme song by Scottish rock band Simple Minds remains one of my all-time favorite songs.

I also used “The Breakfast Club” last summer when I graduated from my three-year graduate school of banking course in Boulder, CO.  We were divided into five and six man fictional banks during our last two-week session in July.  We had to come up with a bank name and create a presentation for the last day of class.  I sold my younger associates on the idea of calling our fictional bank “The Banker’s Club” and then shooting a fictional movie trailer.  I edited, produced, and acted in this fictional trailer.  We changed the scenes we shot our movie trailer to reflect “banker jargon.”  The acting was terrible, but I used the Simple Minds song as the music bed, and in my opinion, it ended up being one of the best presentations on our final day.  If Youtube and Vimeo would stop with all of the copyright infringement issues with my use of the Simple Minds song, I could post the video here.  But alas, you’ll just have to settle for one of our photos.

bankersclub

(My fictional bank – “The Banker’s Club”)

Anyway, like I mentioned earlier, I watched the movie last night, but I watched it with my 19 year old daughter who had never seen it before.  At first, she was a little amused at the dialogue saying that she didn’t think teens really spoke like that (to her point, Bender is very well-spoken for someone classified as a “stoner”).  But, in the end, she liked it and gave it her seal of approval thus validating the greatness of this John Hughes masterpiece in the Gen Z class as well.

Five stereotypical high-schoolers isolated for an entire Saturday with no electronics (ok, there was a stereo system involved I guess), no phones, and no physical activity (sans Bender’s basketball scene, and the running down the hallways).  Man, sounds eerily similar to what we’re practicing right now.  Stay home.  Stay in small groups or just stay completely isolated.

I’ve read from numerous Gen Xers that our generation was built for this!  We were the first generation left at home after school alone while our parents worked.  After school programs were in their infancy and parents had no choice but just to leave their kids at home to fend for themselves.  We were left to our own vices and to entertain ourselves.  Fueled by the early days of MTV, our landline phones, whatever food we could find in our pantry, and our own imagination, we were the “latchkey” generation.

Because I played basketball and had practice after school the majority of my school life I wasn’t home alone too much after school by myself, but there were times during offseason months that I fell into the latchkey kid bucket as well.  I had a pretty good imagination and I’ve also written on here before about my fictional top 10 video countdown show that I created in my head to kill some of that after-school alone time.

“Eighties, by day we run by night we dance, we do”

So a shoutout to all my Gen Xers out there that remember what it was like to be in isolation after school at your home!  And in honor of our totally awesome generation, here is a song about the 80’s that was actually released in the 80’s.  The English punk band Killing Joke put out this classic in 1984 entitled “Eighties.”

The song was featured in a party scene in the movie “Weird Science” and has been used sparingly through the years.  The song is also famous for having a similar riff as the 1992 Nirvana hit “Come As You Are.”  Just take a listen and it’s quite apparent that Nirvana’s song just uses a slowed down version of the Killing Joke riff.  It’s been said that Killing Joke was pissed off about it, but after Cobain’s death in 1994 any lawsuit or potential monetary ramifications seemed to disappear as well.  Interestingly enough, former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl became friends with the band and played drums on their 2003 album and also covered Killing Joke’s song “Requiem” as well.  Maybe it was Dave’s way of making amends at that time.

Image result for killing joke 80's

Probably best known for their song “Love Like Blood,” here is Killing Joke and “Eighties”…

Thanks for reading, practice social distancing, and together we will get through this… except separated and isolated as much as possible.  And while you’re isolated, if you’re completely bored then feel free to write me a (much less than) 1000 word essay telling me who you think you are.

sincerely,

Image result for principal vernon breakfast club

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“You Say You’re Going Through Changes”

“Every day it seems your life is up and down.” – Midnight Star

Image result for midnight star 80's midas touch

Sometimes I just want to write about nothing.  I want to leave the serious topics of life and death and faith and failure behind.  I just want to write about something that makes me feel good.  There are times when I need a mental break from aging parents and frustrations with friends and family, and times I need to leave rough days at work in the rearview mirror.

You know what makes me feel good?  Midnight Star.  Providing groove, rhythm, and smooth vibes since 1976, it’s tough to be in a bad mood when this group is laying out an infectious groove.

This band/small tribe of R&B funk from Kentucky burst onto the 80’s dance scene in 1983-84 with “Freak-A-Zoid” and “No Parking (On the Dance Floor).”  The band originally consisted of Reginald Calloway, Belinda Lipscomb, Melvin Gentry, Kenneth Gant, Jeff Cooper, Bill Simmons and Bo Watson.  Seven original members became eight when they added Reggie’s brother Vincent (remember the 1990 one-hit wonder “I Wanna Be Rich” by Calloway?  Yep, same brothers).  A few years later they added drummer Bobby Lovelace to make nine members, which makes for some fascinating 80’s wardrobe awesomeness and choreography in their music videos.

Next to Kool and the Gang, this was easily my second favorite large group ensemble of the 80’s.  I think I was definitely influenced by my dad’s basketball teams he coached during this time period.  I was living in Seminole, Oklahoma from 1980 until 1984 and I know that many of my dad’s players at Seminole Junior College were big into Kool & the Gang and Midnight Star.

I can remember being on car rides with the team (usually in a vintage late 70’s/early 80’s college-owned station wagon) listening to these groups, and you could hear them in the locker room and in the basketball gym and in the weight room as the beats blared from a nearby boombox.

Image may contain: 9 people, people standing, possible text that says 'k é 12 10 ATE CHAMPS Members the heSeminole championship. Trojans will meet Phillips nior College Trojan basketball team County, first gameof best-of- lebrate Frederickson Fieldhouse in three playoff here riday night, beginning. lahoma City Wednesday night after 7:30 p.m. See story, Page (SJC News feating Northeastern A&M their Bureau Photo) Oklahoma iunior college' (Of course the official ball-boys are going to hold the state championship trophy during the post game celebration!  Shout out Brandon Buss.)

For a pre-teen and official SJC ball-boy, these players were my friends and my early heroes.  I’ve written about them on here before, but these SJC teams won four straight Oklahoma state junior college championships the four years we lived in Seminole and were national runners-up in 1983.  Guys like future NBA player Anthony Bowie, William “Chili” Childs, Win Case, Adam Frank, Ray Alford, and Archie Marshall just to name a few were superstars to me.  They were larger than life basketball studs who just didn’t lose, and if these guys liked Midnight Star, then I was surely following in those footsteps.

“Like searchin’, tryin’ to find the rainbow.  No one’s ever found it, yet it’s told to be.”

midnightstar

As a mild-mannered banker by day, how could I not choose this Midnight Star song for the post?  Though “Operator” will always be my favorite Star song, this one is not to be taken lightly.

I challenge you to clear your mind, relax, but you don’t have to sit still while listening to today’s song or watching the video.  It makes my head bob just a little bit.  It makes me tap my foot.  My muscles relax but my shoulders start to shift from side to side.  The wardrobe makes me smile.  The kids with the spray paint.  The gold glitter!  My ears thank me, and if you have any soul in you then your ears will thank you too.

“I’ve got the Midas touch.  Everything I touch turns to gold, oh, sugar”

From their 1986 album “Headlines,” here is their fourth top 10 R&B hit – “Midas Touch”

Ah what the heck.  “This is an emergency!”  When am I ever going to feature Midnight Star again.  So let’s groove a little more with their #1 hit and a video that has to be an 80’s nominee for best group wardrobe for a video.  Here is “Operator”…

Thanks for reading, and by the way gold was up to a seven year high at over $1,642 an ounce on Friday.  Oh, and pay your bills on time.  There’s your friendly banker advice for the day.

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“See You at Tha Crossroads”

“So you won’t be lonely.” – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Related image

“Stirring Souls”

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for reminding me of your absolute beauty and power particularly over these last few days.  Sometimes it takes death to make us feel alive.  You knew Kobe Bryant.  We all did, but you knew him better than anyone.  Most of us just knew that he was a world-beloved basketball icon.  Number four on the all-time scoring list, five NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, and an 18-time all-star.  Was he perfect?  We know he wasn’t.  You surely know he wasn’t.  Did he have struggles?  Of course.  He was merely flesh.

We know that Kobe was idolized not only by many in our country, but all over Europe, and Asia, and South America.  What we haven’t heard a lot about is that Kobe was worshipping You just two hours before his earthly body was taken.  He was a faithful attendee at the Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach and was also known to attend weekday mass.  The members all knew that Kobe and his family would arrive just a few minutes late, sit in the back pews, and leave a few minutes early so as not to disturb those around him.

Jesus, I feel like You just gave us a small glimpse of what You can do with gifts.  You gave us a reminder at the brevity of life, but Your gifts were on full artistic display for nearly 20 years within a mortal man referred to as “The Black Mamba.”  It was those gifts that made people smile, laugh, hug, high-five, and shake their collective heads over the course of a career.

Sure, we know that your presence, your Spirit, can function like the wind to a sailboat filling sails and leading us to unimaginable places.  But You can also give wings to a basketball player to soar like an eagle.  And in turn You brought people together in love and commonality with a common purpose regardless of race, color, sex, religious and political views, and socioeconomic status.  When You were on full display in the Staples Center in L.A, You brought love.  You brought joy.  You brought kindness and goodness. You brought awe and wonder.

People that say “I don’t think Jesus cares about basketball” – well, I think You see 20,000 souls sitting and standing together in unison.  I think You see an opportunity to bring beautiful, indescribable artistry through Your Spirit into peoples’ lives, and people don’t even realize it.  The scenes You paint with Your brilliant unseen hand can only be admired with a longing – a longing to possess a small piece of whatever this is that we’re witnessing.  I think You see 20,000 people cheering for Your creation.  I think You see thousands of others throughout the world cheering for the gifts that give us live art, that give us pause to reflect and admire.  I think You see 20,000 people that need You, and if for two hours You can show off a brilliant creation that brings them closer to You, it’s then You can begin to work in those hearts and minds.  Hearts become open to receiving when they’re lost in awe and amazement.  They receive Your beauty sometimes unknowingly.  Those hearts are washed in a flood of emotions much like everyday life – with joy, sadness, disappointment, triumph, and ultimately a beginning and an ending.

Kobe Bryant wore 2 different numbers while playing in the NBA.  He wore the number 8 when he first arrived in the league.  His first choice was 24, (which was the number he wore in high school), but an older player was wearing that jersey number so he wore 8 for ten years and when he switched back to 24, he said it was symbolic of his growth and maturation as a person.  He was having a broader perspective on life by that time, and realizing what was most important.  It was still basketball, but I like to believe that his walk with You was growing closer.

Kobe Bryant spent seven years living as a youngster in Italy (ages 6-13) where he visited and spent time in Rome, so if we open up the good book, and go to the Book of Romans, Chapter 8 and verse 24, Paul writes “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?”

Like those that hoped for another last second win by Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, or those that hoped Kobe would score one more point or create one more highlight reel dunk, let us continue in hope for things unseen.  Hope for Your beauty in tragedies we don’t understand.  Hope for words of comfort to come out of confusion and pain.  And for a hope in a higher calling that fills thousands of stirring souls… including mine.

sincerely,

the 80’s

“God bless you working on a plan to heaven
Follow the lord all twenty-four-seven days, God is who we praise
Even though the devil’s all up in my face”

This is probably my favorite 90’s rap song.  The song was released the same year that Kobe Bryant was drafted into the NBA at 17 years of age with the 13th pick by the Charlotte Hornets – 1996 (he was traded to the Lakers before the season started).  This song went all the way to another number Kobe probably appreciated as much as any – the number one.  A #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.  It’s Bone Thugs-N-Harmony with “Tha Crossroads”

 

Also, if you’ve never seen his Academy Award-winning (yes, Kobe won an Oscar) short film entitled “Dear Basketball,” then take a few minutes to watch it.

R.I.P. Mamba.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Now Tell Me…”

“How’s life in the big city?  I hear the competition’s tough, baby that’s a pity” – Rick Springfield

Image result for rick springfield 1984

I moved to the “big city” in the summer of 1984.  The city was Norman, Oklahoma.  That same summer before my first school year in Norman (8th grade; shout out Whittier Middle School), I attended my first concert.  The concert was held at the local basketball venue for the University of Oklahoma Sooners – the Lloyd Noble Center, and the concert featured Australian Richard Springthorpe, better known as Rick Springfield.

“Now who’s this, don juan I’ve been hearing of?”

If we want to be technical, my first real concert was Wayne Newton only because my parents dragged me there.  But on Sunday, August 19, 1984, I was there of my own volition, because I loved Rick Springfield, and his career was blowing up.  I realize that maybe it wasn’t cool if you were a guy to love Rick Springfield.  Arguably, there were probably way more girls that loved Rick, but I didn’t care.  I thought he was cool as hell (still do), and he has some wonderfully catchy choruses.

“And every man’s an actor, every girl is pretty”

He had been a star on television (“General Hospital,” and guest appearances on “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and “The Rockford Files” (with Norman native and star James Garner).  Springfield had already charted numerous times on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Love Somebody would be his 10th top 40 hit in the U.S. in the 80’s), had won a Grammy for “Jessie’s Girl” in 1981, and was just coming off of a big screen starring role in “Hard to Hold.”

The movie was released in April of 1984 and the album came out in July.  The movie was not critically acclaimed and garnered just over $11 million at the box office, but the soundtrack did spin off the top five hit (and my personal favorite of his) “Love Somebody.”  It’s said that when Springfield initially read the script, that he threw it across the room calling it a “piece of crap,” but when they gave him a lot of money, he changed his mind and said “I can make this work!”  A moment that he now recalls where he let his ego lead the way.

MTV promo…

Nineteen eighty-four was a transitional year for me.  After spending the previous four years in Seminole, Oklahoma, my dad was hired as an assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma.  We were moving to the big time, but it was scary for an insecure, introverted 13 year-old.

At Seminole, the Trojans had won four straight state of Oklahoma junior college championships (every year we lived there), and during this time I had built a core group of friends that I still connect with today mostly via Facebook.  Brandon, Tim, Bill, Nate, and Darby were my Northwood Elementary school buds during those pre-teen years and we spent many an hour together on the playgrounds, baseball and soccer fields, and basketball courts.  We spent time over at each others’ houses playing video games, trading baseball and football cards and celebrating birthdays.  They were going to be my classmates and friends forever so it seemed.

“Love hurts when only one’s in love.”

But then on April 27, 1984, everything changed.  My dad was hired away from the comfort of small town Seminole, Oklahoma, and we were moving to Norman.  Times were changing.  My old crew would be left behind.  New friends, new schools, new teammates, and new adventures awaited me in Norman, but my Seminole crew and I had one last fling before going our separate ways in August of 1984 – Rick Springfield.

I wish I had a cool picture or a t-shirt from the concert, but the fact was that most of us  never paid the $13.75 to see Rick Springfield on that Sunday evening.  Apparently, Nate tells me that he and Darby did end up with tickets somewhere on or close to the floor and Darby actually bought a Corey Hart t-shirt (Hart, whose most well known song is “Sunglasses at Night” opened up for Springfield on many of the near 100 shows Rick performed from August through November in 1984).

So with temperatures hovering around 100 outside that day, my mom took the rest of us and we sat in the video production booth at the top of the arena because we had my dad’s key to enter into the stairway that led up to the basketball coaches’ offices.  It also connected to the video production booth so we could slip in there without anyone paying and watch whatever show was going on below.  Pretty sure we also had a pair of binoculars to help with the viewing that evening since we sat so far away.

“Don’t talk to strange men, don’t be a fool.”

I saw Rick in concert that August evening in 1984.  He entered on some sort of futuristic vehicle with fog machines fogging.  Wearing a headset microphone (that was very futuristic looking at the time), he produced to whip the sold out crowd into a frenzy playing his hits that night.   I would see Rick again playing some 15 years later outside in a parking lot in downtown Oklahoma City where my wife and I would take our niece Destinee to her first rock concert.  I would catch Rick again with my wife and a friend of hers in the Fayetteville (AR) mall parking lot at the temporary Arkansas Music Pavillion (the AMP) in 2011.  My wife and her friend Cheryl even barged their way next to Rick as he performed “Human Touch” while walking through the crowd on top of the plastic chairs.  I think they got to touch his bare arms that night (gasp!) while he walked on top of those flimsy chairs.  I even bought and read his book “Late, Late at Night,” which discusses Rick’s story, and all of his successes but also doesn’t shy away from Rick’s problems with depression and suicidal thoughts that he’s battled through the years.

Image result for rick springfield strumming flowers on his guitar  (One of his memorable stage tricks was to take a bouquet of flowers and strum his guitar with them making for some visual fun.)

Rick Springfield is now 70 years old, which means he was almost 35 that August night so many years ago.  Seventy!  But if you’ve seen any recent footage or caught a performance of his in the last 3-5 years then you know he stays in excellent shape and continues to show off those arms of his wherever he performs, and he also continues to take acting gigs as well.

I looked for a live 1984 performance, and came across this one from around that time.  It is Rick’s #2 hit from his 1982 album “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” album.  This song is a staple of his in every setlist, and always a crowd favorite.  Here is a live performance of Rick, his bare arms, his cool hair, a nasty cartwheel at the 4:17 mark, and his song with an important message for the youth, and one of those catchy choruses – “Don’t Talk to Strangers”…

Thanks for reading.

sincerely,

the 80’s

My Rick Springfield Seminole crew doing something ridiculous (except Nate) circa 1983 or 84…

seminolecrew

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“If You’re Lost, You Can Look and You Will Find Me…”

“Time after time.” – Cyndi Lauper

Image result for cyndi lauper 1984 time after time

Damn you “This is Us.”  You got me again.

If you don’t watch the NBC hit family drama “This is Us,” then I encourage you to never ever watch it.  Ever.  Of course, I’m only kidding (slightly).  I won’t spoil anything about the show if you’ve never seen it, but if you’re one that doesn’t mind riding an emotional roller-coaster for an hour at a time then you’ll love it.  The writing.  The acting.  It’s a brilliant show.  Once again if you don’t mind having a fictional story that will make you laugh, think, reflect, and at times, pull your heart strings, and painfully twist them into constrictor knots, then this is worth your television entertainment time.  This is a warning from a person that’s not even into season three yet, so I’m not even completely up to date on the show yet.  But I will be soon (thank you Hulu).

Sometimes I watch the character “Jack” on the show and wonder have I done enough?  Jack is this inspirational, lovable character who’s always playing the romantic and saying the right things and leaving words of wisdom to his wife and to his children (whom he affectionately calls “The Big Three”).  And his character does it all while being funny, fallible, relatable, and humanly authentic.  I think that’s why my eyes swell up with water every now and then while watching this show.  Jack seems like a real person, and in a way, he is.

Image result for this is us nbc

“After my picture fades and darkness has turned to gray.  Watching through windows, you’re wondering if I’m okay.”

I think about my own family and if I wasn’t here tomorrow, did I leave a legacy worthy of them?  Did I say enough?  Did I do enough?  Am I making my time on earth count for something?

The mind is a wonderful, confusing, frustrating, funny thing capable of processing and telling you many things all at once.  It also has a dangerous tendency to continuously compare oneself to others – fictional or otherwise.  Still, if we can glean some attributes that might improve oneself, then I don’t see any harm in trying to capture just a little bit.  Also, any of you that have read this little blog regularly know that I lean into the Word as well, and that’s where I find my best solutions:  “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.  But letting the spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” – Romans 8:6

More than anything though, I just want to set a better example.  I want to be a better husband and a better friend.  I want to be a better father.  I want to be more consistent in these efforts.  It rarely seems that consistency is rewarded, but I love consistency… time after time.

“If you fall I will catch you, I’ll be waiting – Time after time.”

Today’s featured song was played during season one of “This is Us,” and just seems apropos for this post.

Image result for lou albano 80's

Cyndi Lauper was never a personal favorite of mine.  The “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” singer released this song in January of 1984, and I’ll admit – it is my favorite song of hers though it wasn’t at the time of its’ release.  It’s grown on me through the years.

I just never understood the mass appeal, and it’s probably because I wasn’t a teenage female in 1984.  I thought it was cool that she was friends with the late Captain Lou Albano, and featured him in a few of her videos, but that was about the extent of my appreciation for her at the time.  Looking back now, I can appreciate her talent and what she brought to the 80’s.  The wardrobe.  The hair.  The look.  The uniqueness.  And that distinctive voice.  Lauper became the first female to have four top five singles from the same album (“She’s So Unusual”) on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

The video features a final scene that has Lauper reflecting about an episode of “This is Us” as she stares out the window, tears rolling down her cheeks.  Just kidding, the tears probably had something more to do with the real-life situation she was going through at the time with then boyfriend David Wolff (who co-stars in the video).  But I will say that if “This is Us” had been on the air in 1984 I think she’d be watching it at the beginning of the video instead of the 1936 movie “The Garden of Allah.”

Here is the Grammy-nominated song and video for “Time After Time.”

 

“Flashback, warm nights, almost left behind.  Suitcase of memories, time after”

Thanks for reading,

This is sincerely the 80’s

momkarikknewjersey.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“We Drank a Toast to Innocence”

“We drank a toast to time.” – Dan Fogelberg

Image result for Dan Fogelberg 1981 Same Old Lang Syne

Farewell 2019!  Adios!  Ciao!  For some of you, 2019 was a year of wonder and a year of growth and discovery and will be fondly remembered.  For others, it was a painful, trying, rough 365 days that produced more heartache and frustration than anything.  For many, the year will fall somewhere in between.

For this little blog of mine, this will only be post #14 for the year.  The effort waned.  The daunting thought of banging out another post quelled me.  The motivation diminished.  I guess it’s natural in some ways.  Life events interrupt, and somehow things like this blog drop way down on the priority ladder.  Then, before you know it, a year has passed and you’re barely squeezing in post #14 for the year.  I won’t beat myself up about it though.  Maybe I just didn’t have that much to say in 2019.  Maybe I’ll just try to do better in 2020.

“We took her groceries to the check out stand.  The food was totaled up and bagged.”

Dan Fogelberg had a hit with those lyrics!  Somewhere, deep down inside you have to appreciate that fact that he had a hit song with lyrics about totaling and bagging groceries.  It just goes to show you that if you have talent and you can sing, that you can sing anything and potentially make it into a hit record!  It also shows me that I don’t have to be clever or try to write a Pulitzer with every post.  I can ramble.  I can write about nothing.  I can be nonsensical.  I can write fragments and misspell wurds and put punctuation; in the wrong – places!

Today’s song and video brings to mind times of New Year’s eve past (particularly the beautiful sax solo at the end of the song).  But as I age, I find it harder and harder to recollect New Year’s eves of years gone by.  I recall last year’s spent with good friends and a hilarious game of “Cards Against Humanity.”  I can recall a few random parties while I was single – one with an old high school buddy named Scott somewhere in Oklahoma City.  I can recall spending a few with Dick Clark on the television and mom and dad and grandma in their respective chairs while I was in my teens.  I recall a silly 1984 or 1985 New Year’s eve at my best friend Barry’s house in Norman, Oklahoma drinking sparkling grape juice but acting drunk like silly teenagers might do.  I can recall 1999 (and Prince) in Lexington, Oklahoma at my in-laws’ house hoping the end of the world was not near and computers would not shut down all over the world at the strike of midnight.  I can also recall a few spent snuggled up next to my beautiful wife in bed with heavy eyes struggling to make the midnight hour.

I like to be awake when one year rolls into the next… always have.

“She said she saw me in the record stores, and that I must be doing well.”

Dan Fogelberg was doing well when this song came out, and he was a staple on the adult contemporary charts for many years particularly from about 1979 to 1990.  He also had a few U.S. Billboard top 10 hits in the early 80’s.  From Peoria, Illinois, Fogelberg passed away much too young from prostate cancer in 2007.

Today’s song is actually autobiographical which I had no idea about until I was researching it for this post.  It was not until after Fogelberg’s death that the woman in the song came forward to corroborate this chance encounter while the two were back in Peoria visiting family for Christmas around 1975.

We drank a toast to innocence.  We drank a toast to time.  Reliving, in our eloquence another “Auld Lang Syne.”

Of course, the phrase that today’s song is based off of – “Auld Lang Syne” is an old Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788.  The first two lines of that poem basically ask is it right that old times be forgotten?  So let’s continue to honor Mr. Burns and the late Mr. Fogelberg and not forget the old times, or this song, and let’s remember old friends and family as 2019 comes to a close.  But, let’s also look forward in anticipation to 2020 and all that it has in store (both good and bad) for us.

Image result for same auld lang syne it's a wonderful life

(Who doesn’t think of this scene whenever “Auld Lang Syne” is played?  If you have any affinity at all for this movie, then you (like myself) do.)

With a glimpse back to a chance encounter at a grocery store in Peoria, Illinois sometime around Christmas eve of 1975, let’s listen and remember Dan Fogelberg’s top 10 hit in 1981… “Same Old Lang Syne…”

A toast to you dear reader/friend/family member/random stranger, and a toast to 2019… and bring on 2020!

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Time is Now, the Place is Here.”

“And the whole wide world is filled with cheer.” – Run DMC

Happy December!

Any of you that know me, or even frequent this site on occasion, know not only my love of 80’s music in general, but of my love for 80’s rap and the icons that raised rap/hip-hop into the American consciousness in those suburban middle class white neighborhoods of the 80’s.  In particular it was artists like LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, Kool Moe Dee, and of course, the trio that started it all for me – Run DMC.  From the moment I heard “Rock Box,” I was hooked on this threesome that I had absolutely nothing in common with except a love of funky beats, cool kicks, and lyrical poetry.

Of course the group from Queens was responsible for implementing that rock sound into many of their early songs like “Rock Box,” “King of Rock,” and ultimately broke through into the mainstream when they collaborated with Aerosmith on “Walk This Way.”  But another reason why they stand out to me is the fact they are the only rap group with a timeless Christmas classic.

You hear it everywhere during December.  I’ve been at a local girls’ basketball tournament the past few days that our bank sponsors in Rogers, Arkansas (shoutout to the Great 8 Classic), and they’ve been blasting this song over the speaker system during timeouts and intermissions, and I’ve loved it.

I’ll also remember the song because it appears in a low production video some college buddies and I shot on my VHS movie camera late one cold 1989 December night (I’m sure infused by various alcoholic drinks) when I was a freshman in college.  One of my friends filmed about five or six of us dancing around in an empty parking lot while singing along with this song that was blasting from his vehicle’s speakers at that time.  The video is still in my possession.  Who knows when it might magically appear again one day.

“Rhymes so loud and prod you hear it.  It’s Christmas time and we got the spirit.”

Sure Kurtis Blow came out with the catchy “Christmas Rappin'” in 1979, but RUN DMC took it to a new level in 1987 coming up with “Christmas in Hollis.”  (Hollis, Queens referring to the NYC neighborhood where Run DMC grew up.)  It was the only original song on the Christmas Album “A Very Special Christmas,” and not something that Run DMC were particularly interested in doing initially (note: they also appeared with another Christmas original song and video called “Christmas Is” for the “A Very Special Christmas 2.”)  They were ultimately convinced to do “Christmas in Hollis,” and when Jam Master Jay heard Clarence Carter’s 1968 “Back Door Santa,” they knew they had the sample they wanted to use for the song.

A Very Special Christmas

To this day I believe that “A Very Special Christmas” is the only Christmas cd I’ve ever purchased.  The album was the first in a series of Christmas albums produced to benefit the Special Olympics.  It’s actually a pretty good album that features a couple of other holiday favorites of mine including U2’s cover of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Merry Christmas Baby,” and The Pretenders “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

“It’s Christmas time in Hollis queens.  Mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens.”

But for me, the jewel on the album will always be this Run DMC original that even features its’ own music video with a strange elf that only mutters “naughty” or “nice” at various points throughout the video while utilizing a Simon Says machine to help facilitate Santa’s naughty or nice selection process.

“So open your eyes, lend us an ear.  We want to say Merry Christmas and happy new year!”

I still don’t know what collard greens taste like (I thought I would have by now), but featuring a dog as a reindeer, a Santa that carries some serious dough with him, and an appearance by Darryl McDaniel’s mother, here is Run-DMC with “Christmas in Hollis”

 

 

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season and take some time out to enjoy where you’re at, and what you’ve been entrusted with including friendships, family, and love.

sincerely,

the 80’s

KKOUsweatshirt

(Christmas time circa 1987 or 88.  I would have preferred some Adidas gear instead.)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bike Rack Records Volume 2

bikerack

No 80’s music or video in today’s post, but over the past six months I have been involved in a very cool music project in Northwest Arkansas.  I’m a banker by day so the community bank I work for (shout out FNBNWA) has partnered with a local brewery (shout out Bike Rack Brewing) to support Bike Rack Records Volume 2.  There was a Bike Rack Records Volume 1 before we were ever involved, but Volume 2 was just released and it featured 10 Arkansas artists performing original songs.  The album can be found streaming and was produced by Haxton Road Studios.

Because of my love of music and writing, I was asked to participate in the social media campaign to help promote each of these artists.  Over this time I have interviewed each act and used their words in a 200-300 post on social media to help promote the album and to help promote the artist.

A few weeks ago was the official album release party held at a local venue called The Meteor in downtown Bentonville.  All 10 artists were present and performed.  They all performed their song that’s on the album but also two or three other songs of their choice, and what an awesome event it was.

I love local music and I love to help support it however I can.  I’ve attended shows, I’ve donated cash, I’ve bought merch, and I’ve streamed their songs on Spotify and Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and watched their videos on YouTube.  I want to help this music ecosystem grow.  I love the potential of the area and I want to continue to be part of it.  You can see all of my posts on the artists either on my Instagram page or on Bike Rack Brewery’s Instagram page.  Also, check out the following acts on Insta, FB, Spotify, Apple Music, etc. for some great local sounds:

Rap artist Lawrence Jamal

Fellow Fayetteville-based rapper Jeremiah Pickett aka “BAANG”

Little Rock R&B singer and rapper Sean Fresh

Little Rock singer artist Bijoux

Little Rock Rock & Soul artists Dazz & Brie

Indie rock band Willowack

Fayetteville native and soulful Randall Shreve

Joplin-based indie rock band Me Like Bees

Singer/songwriter/KC-ballcap-wearing Cameron Johnson

And the always clever, talented (much more than a party-band) Goose

Some photos and videos from the event can be found on my Facebook page

 

As always, thanks for reading, and go support your local music scene.

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment