Living to Tell About 2013 Was No Small Feat

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One of 2013′s better tricks, don’t you think?

The title of this blog was supposed to be: “2013: I hate you.”

I have my reasons. Dozens of them — some huge and some not so huge. But I found out the huge ones distract you so the smaller ones can sucker punch you when you’re not looking.

Even good stress is still stress, and I had some of that, too.

In short, it was a year of passage, change, and learning never, ever to ask “what else can happen?”

Of course, the cherry on top was me turning 50, which I realize is better than the alternative. That brings me to the point where I’m obligated to say yes, it all could’ve been much worse. And yes, lots of people would laugh at most of the BS 2013 threw at me.

Still, I’ve been mad. I’ve been bitter. I’ve been sad. I’ll never be the same, and I only realized over the past few days that is a good thing. It made me better, hopefully stronger and wiser. I’ll spare you a dozen cliches, but since you’re still reading this, I will list my takeaways from it all:

  • Don’t take time for granted. It is truly our most precious gift; and the freedom to spend time the way you want to spend it is priceless.
  • If you’re doing something you hate doing, quit doing it.
  • Those things you need to do, but are going to do tomorrow: do them today.
  • Cherish your loved ones, and listen to the things your parents say.
  • Instead of praying for tough times to end, pray for strength to get through them. God doesn’t have a clock, and he’s not a genie waiting to pop out of a bottle and perform a neat trick.

So now, it’s 2014. Who knows what it will throw at us. I at least think I am more prepared for whatever it holds. But just for the record I still prefer puppy dogs and rainbows. Happy New Year!

“Kokomo” Turns 25

25 years ago:
Love it? Hate it?
“Kokomo” was #1
for the Beach Boys

david fpIn 1988, the Beach Boys were toast.  Done.  Only in their 40s, they were already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is life’s way of saying, “We love what you did for us, but we’ve moved on.  Now run along and play your oldies at Riverbend, and those other little fairs and festivals.”  They hadn’t had a number-one hit (“Good Vibrations”) in 22 years.  Their most recent top-10 hit, “Rock and Roll Music” had been in 1976, and even that was a nostalgia piece recorded by Chuck Berry in 1957.  Radio stations were playing Whitesnake, Guns ‘N Roses and Def Leppard.  Brian Wilson, the troubled genius behind the Beach Boys’ solid-gold 60s sound, was off recording a solo album.  Younger brother Dennis, the drummer, had drowned five years earlier, leaving Carl as the only Wilson still active with the group.  He and cousin Mike Love, family friend Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston, Brian’s longtime fill-in, made up the rest of the act.  One of the top-selling groups of all time didn’t even have a record label.  So how did this happen?

In early 1988, a Tom Cruise movie called “Cocktail” was being prepared for a summer release, and it needed some soundtrack tunes.  Producer Terry Melcher and songwriter John Phillips (Papa John of the Mamas and the Papas) had collaborated on a little tune about a tropical getaway.  After seeing some footage from the movie, they thought their song would be a good fit, and Melcher’s old friends the Beach Boys would be the perfect group to record it.  Mike Love changed a few words and contributed the chorus and opening lines, “Bermuda, Jamaica…” which he admits were inspired by this song from 1955:

The song was completed, the movie was released, and for a while nothing happened.  Elektra Records didn’t think it was strong enough to be released as a single.  The Beach Boys started performing it in their summer concerts, but compared to familiar sing-along hits like “California Girls” and “Help Me Rhonda,” it was getting little audience response.  Someone then came up with the idea of producing a music video, mixing a lip-sync performance by the group with movie clips featuring Cruise juggling bottles behind a bar.  The video was shot at the newly opened Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida, with “Full House” heart-throb John Stamos pretending to play the drums.  Cheerleaders who were staying at the resort provided a bikini-clad audience backdrop, and the video was quickly a hit on VH-1.  By late October, “Kokomo” was the most popular song in the USA.

It was not without its detractors, however.  Some Beach Boys purists disapproved because it was the group’s first big hit with no involvement from Brian Wilson.  He didn’t write it, didn’t play on it, and didn’t sing a note, so how could it be a true Beach Boys song?  In later years, VH-1 itself named it one of the era’s “40 Most Awesomely Bad Songs,” and Blender magazine included it on its list of “50 Worst Songs Ever.”  Even now it gets limited play on oldies and satellite radio outlets.  Programmers say their research shows people either love it or hate it, “and we try to avoid playing songs that people hate.”

At least the folks in Vermont have cooled down.  When the song was getting all that airplay in 1988, a commonly-misheard lyric was Mike Love’s spoken “Martinique…that Montserrat mystique.”  Many people, including Vermonters, thought he was singing, “Vermont’s a rotten state.” In the context of the song, it made sense.  After all, it was about tropical climes, not chilly old Vermont.  Eventually, most of us figured it out.

Twenty-five years later, many of us are still looking for that fictional place off the Florida Keys, where we go to get away from it all.  The song that dominated the airwaves in the fall of 1988 still says “summer” especially when you hear the angelic voice of the late Carl Wilson: “We’ll get there fast, and then we’ll take it slow…that’s where we want to go…way down to Kokomo…”

It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the song was released.  At that time, my wife and I were taking a fall trip to Myrtle Beach hearing this song get played over and over, so it brings back pleasant memories. In fact, a few days ago it came in handy again.  I was undergoing a rather painful procedure in the doctor’s office (nothing serious, but it did involve some discomfort).  The doctor said, “This is going to sting for about ten minutes, so try to think about something that will get your mind off the pain.”  So there I sat, singing “Kokomo” to myself 2 or 3 times until the pain began to ease.  Unlike most songs in my top-40 mental database, I actually know all the words to this one!  So call it one of the worst songs of all time if you like.  All I know is, it made me feel better for a few minutes.  If I could write a song like that, I’d feel pretty good about myself, no matter what the critics say.

Oh by the way, the Muppets took a shot at “Kokomo” a few years later.  It’s one of their better music video efforts:

 

Dear Santa

Dear Santa:

We are the folks down at The Beaver Dam Roadside Tavern. You know us. We keep you cracked up all year long at our Web site, on twitter and Facebook. We’ve been good this year. Well, mostly we have. You know a little naughty goes a long way, and nice is a bit overrated. Anyway, we know you’re busy for a guy who only works 1 day a year, so here’s the list:

Professor Thorndike Sinclair never stumbles when he does SEC Pigskin Picks. He is a master behind the mic. So, we thought we might could get him some of those cool turntables like DJs have, and he could start a second career. He already has the killer smile and good looks.

Zach Clayton has been a really good… okay, well, you know he tries to be good. Hey, at least his “Music Musings” column good. That should account for something. Anyway, maybe letting him do the sound for the next Van Halen tour would be nice. Have you ever seen him do the Hey! Hey! Hey!’s to “Ain’t Talking Bout Love?” It’s Roth-like.

Mark Grissom wants a World Series Championship for the Cubs. If you cannot do that, just make him a handsome billionaire and supreme ruler of the world. That should be more doable. You know, his blog, “Loving the Cubs… and Other Problems I Have” publishes each Wednesday. Right?

David Carroll, who writes “That Guy on TV and Radio” has been a good boy this year. We really need to change that. Please bring him a $100 Gift Card for the Catfish County Tattoo and Piercing Emporium. For a piercing, we’re thinking something through the eyebrow; and let’s ink him up with a python up high on his neck so when he does the news you can see its eyes poking up over his collar.

Chely Sizemore just wants a balanced no-load mutual fund that outpaces the S&P 500. Hey, who doesnt? Are we right big guy? Oh yeah, and bring her a turtleneck, too. Everybody appreciates a good gag gift now and again.

Brother Hoyt wants either a Tennessee Vols National Championship in football or for Alabama to go 0 and 12. We know you and Jesus compare notes, so see what you can do. Which ever is easier. It doesn’t matter to him.

Ard Svenson just wants to meet Alex Trekek over a couple of Sweetwater 420s. As a matter of fact, buy yourself one while you’re at it.

Coach Billy Jack Hoover is a simple man. He’s kind of like Phil Robertson without all the facial hair and the money. All he wants for Christmas is for him and Mrs. Coach Billy Jack Hoover to have one of those all-inclusive vacations down in Jamaica. (Actually, there’s a kid down there who rushed for 1,400 yards as a high school junior, who Coach thinks might fit in well at CCHS. But don’t tell Mrs. Coach Billy Jack Hoover.)

The Sports Drive has all those super-huge sports brainiacs all crammed in that little studio. So for them, we ask for one of those big studios like Kathy Lee and Hoda have with 10 or 12 cameramen. No, wait. Camera girls who also have really big sports brains.

Okay, well that’s about it. You get to work on that now, and remember, you can deliver the presents to the Beaver Dam Roadside Tavern. We’ll have milk and cookies under the tree, which should give you enough energy to make it to the kitchen where we keep the good stuff.

Merry Christmas,
BeaverDamUSA.com

Hey, I Fixed It

You Can’t Fix Stupid:
Ten Things This Guy
Must Have Been Thinking

can't fix stupid BeaverDamUSA.com meme

And he did it in less than 6 hours!

10. Yeah, I think my driver’s license will fit through this hole. So we’re good.

9. When I nod off to sleep, my hair sticks to the tape. Gotta fix that.

8. Without having to worry about looking to my left, it’s 25% easier to text while driving.

7. “Yes, I’d like a 10-piece McNuggets, individually wrapped and handed to me one at a time.”

6. Only 63 more payments, and she’s allllll mine.

5. Gotta get me one of those Share the Road bumper stickers.

4. Yes, chicks certainly seem to dig it. I get lots of looks.

3. Gonna have to plug those holes before it gets much colder.

2. You know those overhead signs on the interstate that tell us how many traffic fatalities we’ve had? Those are stupid, and dum. (You see, he’s too dumb to be able to spell it. He has tape over his entire driver’s side window, for God’s sake. You can’t fix stupid, people!)

1. You can look in the top hole for free, but if you wanna see through the bottom one, it’ll cost you a quarter.

Favorite Christmas Songs

Favorite Christmas Songs
From Handel’s “Messiah” to
“A White Trash Christmas”

Jimmy Buffett BeaverDamUSA.com

Who also has a Christmas Birthday? This guy. (Image via US Navy, public domain)

Well, this will be the last Music Musings column before Christmas and what better topic than Christmas songs. I was creating my Christmas playlist on the iPod the other day and realized that I have a large number of Christmas songs that run the gamut from classical/traditional to modern. The list below (in no particular order other than my random thoughts) includes individual songs, albums, shows, etc.  For what it is worth, here you go:

  • Merry Christmas Alabama (Jimmy Buffett) – While this song includes the word “Alabama,” it is still one of my favorite songs and is on his Christmas album – Christmas Island. Jimmy basically chronicles “…all the places, and faces” that he has lived and known through the years. Ironically, JB’s birthday is on Christmas Day.
  • Guitar Christmas (Steve Wariner) – This instrumental album is a hidden gem. Have a party going on & need some Christmas music in the background? Then this is your choice. Steve displays his Certified Guitar Player designation on Christmas favorites. As with Buffett, Steve has a Christmas birthday.
  • A Baby Changes Everything (Faith Hill) – Yes, I have a Faith Hill Christmas album loaded in my iPod. Actually, it is my wife’s CD. This single talks about Mary and “How A Baby Changes Everything.”  Of course, Faith could sing the phone book and it would sound great. Both song and rendition are great on this one.
  • Lost Christmas Eve (Trans Siberian Orchestra) – The TSO fuses rock music with orchestra instruments. Their take on some classic Christmas songs and their original songs are over the top. The musicians in TSO are uber-talented and their stage show rivals any rock show that I have seen.
  • Hallelujah Chorus (from Handel’s Messiah) – This classical piece always gives me goose bumps, whether I am listening to it or singing it. I have the opportunity to sing with a choir and when we do this, it is special. I also love the tradition of standing whenever this is played or sung.
  • A Very Special Christmas – Volume I (Various) – Originally released in 1987 as a fundraiser for Special Olympics, this album featured various popular artists singing traditional as well as original Christmas songs. It runs the gamut from Run D.M.C.’s Christmas in Hollis to Stevie Nicks’ Silent Night. While there have been numerous others and approximately $100 million has been raised for Special Olympics, this one still holds a special place that none of the sequels do. 
  • White Trash Christmas (Zach Tison) – If you can find this, go get it now. Heard this originally on the Rick & Bubba radio show years ago.  It is a catchy tune which talks about buying Grandpa a “carton of cigarettes,” “Momma’s the Queen of One-Stop Shopping,” “take shelter under the double-wide,” and a cousin who likes to hold his sister. If there ever was a theme song for Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation, this is it.
  • O Holy Night (Martina McBride) – A former radio personality in Nashville once described Martina as “two lungs and a larynx.”  If anyone can do this traditional hymn justice, it is Martina.

As you can see, my list is varied. Our individual moods vary, so why can’t our music?  So as I put the iPod on shuffle, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Look Out Lottery… Here I Come

Buying a Mega Millions Ticket
Is Nonsense, Or Is It?

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom beaverdamusa.comThere has been an awful lot of “hype” this past week about the Mega Millions Lottery.

Everywhere you turn, folks are talking about winning the “big money.” Television, radio, newspaper… that is all you hear! Everybody wants to run out and buy a lottery ticket and then say a big prayer that they are the lucky winner and go home with about a 350 million pre-tax payout.

By the time you read this blog, one of two things will have happened. After Tuesday night’s big drawing, somebody or somebodies will have won, or nobody will have won and the winnings will increase and the craze will continue until this coming Friday night.

Let us get something very clear. In my personal opinion, buying a lottery ticket is nonsense. Especially in this particular situation when the odds are nowhere near possible for you to win.

They say the chance of winning is less than being struck by lightning in the same place 5 times. They also say the chance of winning the lottery is less than a Professional Golfer making a hole in one on the same hole 3 times in a row.

So why would anyone go out and spend $5.00, $10.00, $20.00 or $100.00 or even more and take those kind of chances?

Let me tell you why!

It is the very same reason why thousands and myself more still pull for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series. It is called…”Dreaming” baby!!

To understand the mind, and reasoning, of a Cubs fan…you must first understand that we love to dream. We have been dreaming our whole lives! Dreaming about the day when we win the Division Series, the National League Championship and the World Series!

You can believe what I am about to tell you, or not…I don’t care. But I am telling you the truth. I have actually dreamed about standing on Addison Street in Chicago, Illinois, in the cold winter month of October and screaming and shouting with other life-long Cub fans right after we made the third out in the top of the 9th and won the World Series of Major League Baseball!

Unfortunately, I am not sure that dream will ever come true. But I will ALWAYS have hope and faith in my heart that one day… that possibility could still happen!

I expect, if nobody wins this weeks Mega Lotto, they will tell you the chance of winning the lottery is less than the Cubs winning the World Series. That is the next set of odds coming up. I am sure of this.

However, for those of us who love to dream and dream big, we will continue to love and support the Cubbies, and we will continue to long for the day when we stand shoulder to shoulder on Addison Street and hold hands and sing to the top of our voices… “Go Cubs Go…Go Cubs Go…Hey Chicago What Do You Say…. The Cubs Are Gonna Win Today!!” (That is the song played at Wrigley after every home win)

Oh ya, one more thing.  I just came back from purchasing 20 dollars worth of quick picks for tonight’s big lottery.  Hey… I told you… I am a DREAMER BABY!!

Until Next Week…

GO CUBS!!

Brandon Maddox Readies For Breakout Year

New Band, National Tour
Await Brandon Maddox in 2014

With an upcoming national tour, a new band and a fresh management team in place, you can’t blame Brandon Maddox for being excited for 2014.

“I see it just going up from here,” the Chattanooga, Tennessee, native told us recently. “Everything is getting better and better. And this new year — if it’s not a groundbreaking year — then I don’t know what you can count on in life.”

Groundbreaking, figuratively speaking; but groundbreaking in a more literal sense, as well. That’s because Brandon was recently named Lucas Oil Monster Truck Nationals Artist of the year. He is currently touring with Monster Nite Out, playing at 11 monster truck rallies mostly in the Midwest.

“(Monster Nite Out) came about through my connection with Reba McEntire’s keyboard player, Doug Sisemore. He was a high school acquaintance of my dad,” Brandon explained, “and my dad contacted him a couple of years ago for me. And Doug listened to some of my songs, and he said, ‘Can I write with you?’ and my jaw was dropping.

“He basically said, ‘there’s this audition going on where you can try to become the Monster Truck Artist. They’ve got this theme song, but the guy who wrote it who is also an artist decided not to do it because of family obligations and things like that.’ So I said, ‘well, cool.’ So I tried out for it and ended up getting it. We’ve been working together, and my first national commercial came out on today.”

Brandon said, “I’m going to be going to Monster Truck shows, playing at the rallies in the big arenas. They’re going to have the music video playing on the JumboTron. Me and my band are going to be playing 30 minutes’ worth of material before the Monster Truck Rally, then after the Monster Truck Rally. They’re spending $100,000 in radio promotion and major market TV promotion. So it’s going to be big,” he said.

Click here for a full schedule.

With the tour only a month out, rehearsals are obviously in full swing. “I’ve got the band rehearsing with me, and we’re getting prepared. It’s going to be great.”

About his set list, he said, “I’ve got a mixture of originals and covers. I’ve got plenty of original songs, it’s just that I’m trying to mix it up where the crowd knows some, and they’re learning some of my own songs. I just want to keep them engaged.”

The notoriety has already made a difference. He said, “I’m already seeing some evidence of that. As far as my artist career, it’s just taking off which will foster the writer side of my career. I have people coming to me more now, just saying they’d like to pitch me a song or they’d like to have me record one of their tunes, or write with me or whatever. Not that I was ever short on co-writers, but people I don’t know are coming now, and it’s kind of crazy. Everything feeds off the other, and everything’s just going to really blossom over the next 8 to 12 months.”

But Brandon is no stranger to success. To date, 18 of his songs have been recorded by artists. And in 2012, his “Honk if You’re Country” made it to the big screen. Brandon said, “I wrote that song back in 2009 with the lead singer of a band named Curtis and Luckey. They recorded the song as an independent duo act, and then the guitar player of the band pitched it to a publishing company in Hollywood. That publishing company then pitched it to film and TV. And it wound up being in the movie “Unconditional” which was released September, 21, 2012. And it’s a really great film.”

He also recalled some of the other artists who’ve cut his songs. “Megan Redmond, a song called ‘Blink’ was the title track of her album. Another guy, CJ Garton, was my first recorded song by an independent act that’s called ‘Big Time Love in a Small Town.’

“’Bebe’s Riding Shotgun’ was recorded by an artist named Mandy York. And ‘Everyday Love’ was cut by Adam James. ‘Flying Solo’ got cut by Grant Reiff. ‘I Can’t Live Without Loving You’ was cut by Ty Bowman.

“’Only God Knows,’ I recorded it with Hunter Monroe, the two-time American Idol finalist. And that’s going on a future record, too,” Brandon said.

Brandon moved to Nashville to pursue writing full time in 2007, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he started honing his artist chops. While he is just beginning to enjoy success, he certainly appreciates some of the perks that come along with it – his new band, especially. “These are guys that I put together basically for the Monster Truck thing. They play with a lot of different acts, but that’s another thing that keeps getting better — the caliber of the musicians. I’m getting in with some circles of people who are better and better as time goes on.”

He said, “When I first had my group, we’d sound okay. We’d sound fair to middle. But as far as our rehearsals now, we’re sounding middle to great; and as far as who I’ve got playing on my team, they’re getting more and more professional.

facebook.com/brandonmaddoxmusic
twitter.com/bmadmusic
brandonmaddoxmusic.com

“I think it’s just something that as a whole, you try to work your way up in the business. You deal with people who aren’t very professional, and then you deal with those people who are more professional. As time goes on, you keep chugging away, and that’s what it’s all about — just not having to put up with some of that stuff that you go through when you’re starting out. It’s a new tier of people.”

Brandon Maddox beaverdamusa.com

KLynch Photography

Brandon said his progress to this point has been “somewhere in the middle” as far as elapsed time. “I mean, sometimes it seems slow, and sometimes I have to look at it like I’ve only been full time in the business giving it my all as far as an artist goes the past 2 years. And so when it comes to that, I’ve been trying as a songwriter 6 and a half years, but I’ve only been trying as an artist the past couple of years.”

Just like everyone else, Brandon has had his detractors. “I think it could’ve gone faster. And I think there were some people who kind of blocked my success for a while because they didn’t like me as a person. Things happened, and I don’t know, there are some creeps out there, some unsavory characters. And they’d go around and they would blacklist me from some stuff, but those people – their voices get less and less influential as time goes on. So that’s the big, bright shiny sun in the sky,” he said.

Our next installment on Brandon will focus on his new single, “Picture Perfect.” And, he will talk about how his management group has helped him, we’ll hear what others are saying about him, and more. Look for publication around New Year’s.

Chewing Peppermint: a Cautionary Tale

Pulling Off a Crown
Is Child’s Play

starlight mintA few days before Halloween, I was binge eating starlight mints when something horrible happened inside my mouth. I didn’t know specifically what was wrong, but it felt like someone had put peppermint candy all over an anvil and stuck it in there. I had lockjaw. And I was afraid to swallow the candy for fear the anvil would go with it.

What seemed like an hour was probably more like 3 seconds. After I came to my senses, I realized I had pulled a crown loose. It was still partially attached to the tooth and sticking up at a 45-degree angle like a car with its hood up. Come to think of it, it felt as big as a car hood. Scratch the anvil reference.

In a panic, I headed toward the dentist’s office, calling on the way.

Dentist’s office: How may I help you?
Me: Ah glabbo ah gibbeldy ca gibbit wibbo gamababa!
Dentist’s office: You were eating a starlight mint, and pulled off a crown?
Me: Waga.
Dentist’s office: When would you like to come in?
Me: Wibble fubbill wubble! (Loosely translates to “Right Freakin’ Now!”)
Dentist’s Office: We’re booked solid today. How is 9 in the morning?
Me: Wabaaaaaagagalaa!

There I sat, mid-afternoon. I cannot swallow. I cannot close my mouth because there is a 1973 Chevy Impala hood in there. I cannot eat or drink until the next morning. I cannot talk (and therefore will not be able to make sarcastic remarks during Dancing With the Stars). This can only happen to me.

And then it hit me: If I could pull a crown off with a starlight mint, maybe I could use another one to push it back on.

It was a breakthrough in dentistry. Bang! Crown. Back. On.

I nearly sprained a finger dialing the dentist to cancel the appointment.

That night, of course, it came off completely, leaving a crater the size of the Grand Canyon. But it didn’t hurt; well, it didn’t hurt much. It sure didn’t hurt badly enough to reschedule the appointment immediately. I would do it in a day or so.

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into a couple of months. But I finally did reschedule. Now I’m sitting in the chair under the we-have-ways-of-making-you-talk light. The dental assistant held out a little paper cup, and I dropped the crown in it.

Dental assistant: When did it come off? Yesterday?
Me: No, it was longer than that.
Dental assistant: How long?
Me: (We’ve all lied at the dentist’s office. Don’t judge me.) Three weeks.
Dental assistant: Well we can try to put it back on, but since it’s been that long… sometimes teeth shift. I can’t promise anything.

Tears started to form in my eyes as she left. I imagined how much my teeth could rearrange in two months. I would certainly need a new crown. Of course insurance pays something like $2.75 of it leaving me with only $937.25 to come up with. No big deal.

I tried to man-up when the dentist walked in.

Dentist: When did it come off, yesterday?
Me: Boy, it got wintertime on us, didn’t it.
Dental assistant: Three weeks ago.
Me: I had to break out my big coat, yessiree I did.

So he stuck it back on, end of story. Of course, I had to ask him if I was the oldest person who ever pulled off a crown with a piece of candy.

“We get it all the time at this time of year,” he said.

Loosely translates to: “Yes, you’re at the top-end of the age range of people who mess up their teeth with Halloween and Christmas candy.”

So move over, all you pudgy 9-year-old Eddie Mundellos out there. There’s a new sheriff in town — a sheriff who flosses daily. Yep. Every day.

Sing it! “There’s a Bathroom on the Right”

Misheard Lyrics are a
Part of Rock-n-Roll

As you may know by now, I love rock ‘n roll oldies.  I don’t even pretend to be a music snob.  You can have your trendy new music on NPR, your deep album cuts and even your high-falutin’ classical music.  Give me those hook-laden top-40 pop songs that I can sing along with.

Now, all these decades later, I’m playing catch-up.  There’s almost always some song from the 60s, 70s or 80s blaring from my car speakers, and that’s me with the windows up, sparing you the pain.  The other day,  this song “Wild Night” was on the radio, and I tried to sing along.  I realized I had no idea what Van Morrison was saying, and I defy you to figure it out as well.  No fair going to Google and reading the lyrics.  We’ll do that later.  For now, listen to the first verse of this song, and then the chorus, and see if you know what Van is trying to say.

That song was a top-20 hit back in 1971, but it still gets stuck in my head now and then, and it’s darn near impossible to sing along with.  Van just wails along, mumbling and slurring.  That makes it different from many songs with lyrics I simply misunderstood on my cheap little AM radio speaker.  For instance, if you thought John Fogerty was singing “There’s a bathroom on the right,” (a bad moon on the rise) I was right there with you.  In fact, it may be contagious in my family.  My wife was in her twenties before she figured out that in “My Cherie Amour,” Stevie Wonder wants to “share your little distant cloud,” and not “your little sister Sal.”  My son Vince’s faulty interpretation of lyrics was published in a calendar of misheard lyrics a few years ago.  When he was little, he heard Honey Cone sing “Gonna put it in the Want Ads,” but to him it sounded like “My brother has a wood ass.”  (His brother was not amused).  Still another family member was heard loudly singing along to the Hues Corporation’s big hit “Rock The Boat.”  The very first line is “I’d like to know where…you got the notion.”  You can imagine how embarrassed she was, belting out, “I’d like to know where…you got pollution.”

Of course the malady isn’t confined to Carroll family members.  During my radio days, I got requests for Steve Miller’s “Chug-a-Lug,” (actually “Jungle Love.”)

It even goes outside the border of music. In fourth grade, I had a pretty good handle on the Pledge of Allegiance, but an unnamed classmate (who may be reading this blog, and is larger than me) would routinely recite, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for Richard Stands…”  He was surely among many who wondered, who is this Richard guy, and why is he always standing?

Quite often, the singers themselves are to blame.  They’re either intentionally garbling the lyrics (“Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen), drowned out by the music (Mick Jagger, in “Tumbling Dice“) or maybe they want to keep us guessing (Michael McDonald in most of his Doobie Brothers hits, like “What a Fool Believes“).

Still, Tom Jones is loud and clear in the opening lines of “She’s A Lady,” when he belts out, “She’s got style, she’s got grace, she’s a wiener.”  Everybody I know pronounces the word “winner,” Sir Tom.

When I hear Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like a Wolf,” I think my misheard version makes more sense than the real thing.  To me it sounds like “I smell like a sow, I’m lost in a crowd.”  Actually, they’re singing, “I smell like I sound.”  I’m sticking with the sow.

Some of us like to repeat the wrong words, even though the correct ones are loud and clear.  Who among us hasn’t enhanced Elton John’s beautiful “Tiny Dancer,” by singing out, “Hold me closer, Tony Danza.”  Mr. Danza himself gets a kick out of that one.  Or at least he did the first 500 times people sang it to him.  It may be getting old to him by now, but it’s still funny to me.

Although John Mellencamp, Kurt Cobain, Prince, Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan have kept me guessing for years, without a doubt Joe Cocker is the King of Misheard Lyrics.  His 1969 Woodstock rendition of “With a Little Help From My Friends” is a YouTube classic, thanks to some creative soul who captioned Cocker’s nonsensical mutterings.

Now back to those Van Morrison “Wild Night” lyrics:

As you brush your shoes
And stand before the mirror
And you comb your hair
And grab your coat and hat
And you walk, wet streets
Tryin to remember
All the wild breezes
In your memory ever.
And everything looks so complete
When you’re walkin out on the street
And the wind catches your feet
And sends you flyin, cryin
Ooh-wee!
The wild night is calling.

How’d you do?  Thanks to the Internet, I now know, 42 years later what Van’s been singing.  Now I can rest easy.  Or as Van might say, “Nah ah ca ress a zee.”

(What’s your favorite misunderstood song lyric?  Have you ever been singing along with a song, only to make your friends or family laugh out loud? Share it in the comments section!  Thanks for reading, DC)

Praise For My Mother’s Love

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom beaverdamusa.comLet me begin by saying “Congratulations” to the Auburn Tigers for their win over Missouri in the SEC Championship. WAR EAGLE!

Enough of that. Now for the rest of the story!

I was 5 years old. That was about as early as I can remember in my life. So we shall start there.

I do not remember if they won or lost. However, it is quite easy to assume they lost…because they are the Cubs.

I had memorized all the players on the Chicago Cubs roster that year. I knew who was playing at every position. I knew every pitcher. I knew everyone on the Cubs roster. I would have memorized the names of the grounds crew at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field…except they did not make that public.

My dad was taking me to my very first Cubs game that year. I do not remember who they played. I do not remember if they won or lost. However, it is quite easy to assume they lost…because they are the Cubs.

After that game, my dad and I went to many more games as I was growing up in Zion and then after we moved to Bridgeview, a suburb of Chicago on the southwest side.

There was one person that I remember well, who encouraged my father to take me to all the ballgames he could. That person made sure that I had my ball glove, radio, raincoat, (in case of rain) and a few dollars in my pocket to buy a program, a pencil and maybe even chocolate malt!

That person was my mother.

My mom was a “rock” for me growing up. She was the one who made sure I was dressed for school, that I did my homework, that I studied my piano lessons, that I played my trumpet on a regular basis and most of all, (and most important)…that I was in church every time the doors were opened.

On Sunday mornings, dad usually left for church quite early to turn on the lights, make sure the heat or air was on and everything was clean in the sanctuary for the service. I stayed at home with mom and we went to church together every Sunday. I was always the first one ready and waiting for mom downstairs. I usually watched TV or played the piano while she was finishing getting ready. (Mom loved for me to play the piano on Sunday before we went to church…I miss that).

She drove us to church until I was old enough, and had my permit, and then I got to drive. Church was just a few blocks away. But still…by the time we got there, I had made her so nervous with my driving…I am sure she needed to say a few extra prayers during service!

She was my “ROCK”!  She, along with my father, was my spiritual guide when I was growing up. My mom was a true Christian lady! She lived by example in her faith and in her worship at church.

I remember, growing up sitting by her in church, you did not dare talk or be disobedient during service. She would take her thumb and index finger and pinch you so hard on the inside of your leg you would want to cry! I knew better…so I behaved. Most of the time.

This Saturday, December 14, will mark the third year anniversary that my mom went home to be with the Lord. It is a difficult time of the year for me, to say the very least. I miss her…I always will. But I especially miss her during the Christmas Holidays.

I love you mom!  Thank you for the Christian home you raised me in. Thank you for always bragging on my piano playing. Thank you for making sure I had clean clothes and a hot meal every day. Thank you for loving me with an unconditional love like nobody else will ever love me.

And thank you, mom, for nudging dad to take me to the see the Chicago Cubs. Now if it is not too much trouble, could you ask the Lord to help us win a World Series one year?

Merry Christmas in Heaven, mom.

Love, Mark

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