My iPod Has Issues – Too Early For Bed

16 Jun

The summer class that I am teaching is halfway finished.

The meetings I had today did not last long.

The dinner we had at the local pizzeria was quite good.

Everyone else is in bed, but I cannot go to bed before 10 pm. Going to bed before 10 pm means I have reached a time in life that I am not ready to admit. When I was a kid, I would beg my parents to let me stay up until the local news was over. I usually made it through Johnny Carson’s monologue or through the beginning of a John Wayne movie on the late show. Nope, I will not go to bed earlier than that.

Instead, I will delve into the mind of my psychotic iPod and see what is going on.

“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Search for Vulcan” by Leroy Holmes

“Heaven is a Place on Earth” by Belinda Carlisle

“Carolyn” by Merle Haggard

“Stereotomy” by The Alan Parsons Project

“Ebo Walker” by The Dillards

“Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone

“She’s Got You” by Loretta Lynn

“Got My Mojo Working” by Muddy Waters

“Memphis Exorcism” by Squirrel Nut Zippers

“Garden Party” by Ricky Nelson

“6 Underground” by Sneaker Pimps

“Free Ride” by Edgar Winter

“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” by Led Zeppelin

“Lazy River” by Pete Fountain

“Hallelujah I Love Her So” by Ray Charles

“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys

“More Than You Know” by Mel Torme

“O Death” by Ralph Stanley

“Down Together” by The Refreshments

A Concert Full of Pet Peeves

15 Jun

Many of you know that I am a concert fanatic. The genre of music does not really matter. I just like to hear it live. Through the years, this fanaticism has created a lot of experiences. Great concerts. Bad concerts. Great venues. Bad venues. This, by no means, makes me a concert expert. However, I know a bad one when I see one. Heck, I even wrote an open letter to Madonna about the disaster that she called a concert.

I write all of that to write the following. This week, my wife and I saw a bad concert. In fact, it hit on a bunch of our concert pet peeves.

Ann Wilson of Heart was the performer. Actually, that is what the ticket said. Ann Wilson of Heart. While that was technically true, the ticket was sort of false advertising. More on that in a minute, we have to get to the list of badness.

The “We Love You” Fans – Everyone gets excited for concerts, and this excitement grows when the performer is one of your all time favorites. I understand this. Heck, that is why I like concerts. However, I have never yelled “We Love You” to a performer.

Here is how it usually goes. A song is over. The performer takes time to talk to the audience. Then it happens. “We Love You, Ann Wilson!” Some performers respond. Some performers ignore it. I am not sure which approach is best, but Ann Wilson chose the second option. The woman behind us could not get enough, and yelled it consistently throughout the show.

What causes people to do this? Once may be fine. You are expressing your adoration. You want the performer to know how much you care and how happy you are that they chose your city for a concert. However, the continuation has to mean something else. It has to mean that the “We Love You” person wants the performer to acknowledge them. Say “I Love You, Too” and let that person know that they care just as much.

It could mean that they want a personal connection. This performer is an important part of their existence, and they want to be a part of the performer’s existence. There should be a psychological study on the “We Love You” people. No matter the psychosis, please stop yelling. Ann knows you love her. We know you love her. Guess what, none of us care. Just listen to the music.

Wait, the music. That is the next pet peeve that this concert was able to accomplish.

Play the Jukebox – Several years ago, I saw Elton John in concert. After playing a few new songs, he told the crowd not to worry. He was going to play the jukebox. He meant that he was going to play all of the old hits that made him famous. Those were the same hits that people bought tickets to hear.

I know that performers want to stay creative. They want to show people that they can still produce great stuff. However, they need to understand that people want to hear the old songs. They want the music to take them back in time. Ann Wilson does not understand this. Over a two-hour show, she sang three songs from Heart. Those songs would have gotten people out of their seats. Instead, they sat there and listened to songs that they did not want to hear. Even the “We Love You” crowd just sat in their chairs.

Here is another weird thing. She did not sing that many new songs. She sang a bunch of old songs that other people recorded. Elvis Presley. Jimi Hendrix. The Who. Buffalo Springfield. This list goes on and on. Hey Ann, if you are going to sing old songs, then you may as well sing your own. I left there thinking that she has created a glorified cover band.

Ann Wilson has a great voice, and she showed it off. However, we wanted to hear that voice sing songs like:

“Magic Man”

“Dog and Butterfly”

“Dreamboat Annie”

Other songs can be sprinkled in, but the songs that made her famous should have been at the heart (pun intended) of the show. As I wrote earlier, the ticket said Ann Wilson of Heart. It did not say Ann Wilson Who Is Trying To Separate Herself From What Made Her Famous.

Although, I did notice a trend in some of the songs she chose, and that leads me to the next pet peeve.

Politics on Stage – I go to concerts to be entertained. I go to concerts to escape the world for a while. This means escaping politics. However, Ann Wilson wanted to get political. She started talking about the political landscape and how she wanted to relieve us of our confusion. That is really not her role. Her role is to sing “Barracuda.”

Instead, she sang protest songs from the late 1960s and early 1970s and was subliminally telling us how relevant they are today.

I teach a class on the History of Rock and understand that artists have always wanted to make statements with many of their songs. However, I do not need an aging rocker telling me how I should feel about politics. I have seen Ted Nugent in concert and did not want to hear it from him. Now, I have seen Ann Wilson in concert and did not want to hear it from her.

If I want to hear about politics, then I can get on Twitter or turn on some news channel. When I go to a concert, I do not want to hear someone’s opinion that is no more important than my own. I want to hear some great music.

I did not yell my advice to the stage in between the “We Love You” shouts. However, I will give it now. Ann Wilson should understand that she will always be Ann Wilson of Heart and people purchase tickets to hear those songs. If she did, then maybe the venue would actually be full. Oh yeah, those people yelling “We Love You” would probably love you more.

A Musical Story About Georgia

11 Jun

My wife had to go to Atlanta for business, so we drove down for an overnight stay. On the way back, I started thinking about songs with Georgia in their titles. This post is the result of the string of ideas that my mind put together. As you can tell, strange things run through my brain when I am driving.

Ray Charles called Jim Croce and said, “I’ve got Georgia on My Mind.” Jim replied, “Let’s start Walkin’ Back to Georgia.” As they walked down the road, Gladys Knight and the Pips passed on their way to the station. She yelled out of the window, “We’re taking the Midnight Train to Georgia. You guys should come with us.”

Ray and Jim jumped into the car with Gladys and the Pips. Before boarding the train, Gladys got a text from Brook Benton saying that it was a Rainy Night in Georgia. Despite the news, they still wanted to go. However, things would get worse.

When they disembarked, the station was totally dark. People were scrambling. Then, they ran into Vicki Lawrence who told them the bad news. This was The Night That the Lights Went Out in Georgia. Nobody knew what happened. The lights just went out. It was almost supernatural.

Suddenly, a bell sounded throughout the station. Someone spoke through a megaphone. The voice sounded familiar.

Ladies and gentlemen, please do not be alarmed. We are working on the lights, and we have discovered the problem. The Devil Went Down to Georgia and blew out all of the transformers.

They looked up and saw Charlie Daniels assuring people that everything would be alright.

With nothing else to do, Ray, Jim, Gladys and the Pips sat on benches, and someone finally asked Ray an important question. Why did you want to come to Georgia? He simply answered that he wanted to meet up with Sweet Georgia Brown.

A Few Students of Castle Heights Military Academy

9 Jun

From 1902 to 1986, our city was home to Castle Heights Military Academy, a school that attracted students from all over the world. Those of us who have been around for a while have heard a bunch of stories about the school. The rivalry between the cadets and the local guys. The great athletic teams. The people who received a great education within its halls. One day, I will write about those stories. However, this is story is about a few students who made an impact.

Many of the Castle Heights cadets went on the great success, and a few of them went on to a level of fame.

Pete Rademacher won the heavyweight boxing gold medal at the 1956 Olympics. He made his professional debut by fighting Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title. As far as I know, it is the only time that someone had a shot at the belt in their first fight.

General Wesley Clark, who ran for president in 2004, also attended the school.

Danny Evins, the founder of Cracker Barrel, went to Castle Heights and was one of its major benefactors for many years.

Heck, Benito Mussolini even sent some young men to Castle Heights before the outbreak of World War II. I have seen a photograph of the Rotary dinner that was held in their honor.

However, two brothers who attended Castle Heights rose to greater fame than any of those. They altered the course of music history and, as a result, became iconic figures. One of them passed away in 1971 at the height of his fame. The other passed away just a few days ago.

It is difficult to imagine them wearing the uniforms of Castle Heights cadets, but Duane and Gregg Allman did just that. Up above is a picture of Gregg as proof.

Our Week With Eric Church, Carole King, the Bandit and the Nashville Predators

30 May

It has been an eventful week in the SBI World, and we have spent a lot of time in the city 30 miles to the west. For those not up on local geography, that city is Nashville.

On Monday night, we had tickets for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals in the National Hockey League. The Nashville Predators have been on a magical run through the playoffs and have taken over the city. Long time Predator fans are not happy with the bandwagon people, but we felt that Game 6 was a must-see event. They clinched the championship, and I got to High Five the country music star who sat in front of us. I have no idea who he was, but my wife was not happy that I got to touch him and she did not.

On Tuesday night, I was back in Nashville for a fundraiser. Cumberland University, where I work, is the home of the Martin Van Buren Papers, and a Nashville attorney hosted an event to assist with that project. He has an amazing collection of historic artifacts and opened his office for tours. People paid to see documents signed by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Davy Crockett, King George III and various other people. It was interesting to see everything and to hear the stories of how the collection came together.

On Wednesday night, I went with my brother and my nephews to a truly cultural event. We went to the theater to see the 40th Anniversary screening of Smokey and the Bandit, a movie that I have seen a million times.

It was great to see the Bandit, Snowman and Buford T. Justice on the big screen, but it was also great to see people with their t-shirts. As bandit tells Snowman when they get to the warehouse full of Coors beer, it was “redneck heaven.” After it was over, I wanted to get a diablo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper.

On Friday night, it was back to Bridgestone Arena, home of the Predators. However, we were not there for a hockey game. We were there to see Eric Church in concert.

I do not know much about the singer, but we had already seen him at a Kris Kristofferson tribute concert. This one was more rocking and raucous. Eric Church is known for wearing sunglasses, and it was funny to see all of the guys in the crowd wearing sunglasses. I reckon that thought some female would mistake them for the performer.

On Sunday night, we went to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. It was a great show about the life of a prolific songwriter who also creating on of the great albums of all time. Through professional success and personal tribulation, she wrote songs that became part of the soundtrack for a generation. Now, we have to see the real person in concert.

At some point, I made the statement that I was not going to go into the city for a while. However, I will it will happen because there is too much cool stuff there to do. This week was just a small sample of that.

Movie Wisdom – Tom Sizemore Edition

21 May

This afternoon was a good time to watch television. It was hot and rainy outside, which is not a great combination. Flipping through channels, I found Devil in a Blue Dress, a movie that I can always watch. I will not go through the story, but, as it pertains to this post, Don Cheadle shoots Tom Sizemore.

When that movie was over, I went to the guide and found Heat, a great movie starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. It also has Tom Sizemore, and I changed the channel in time to see him get shot.

Therefore, this has been a Tom Sizemore day. I saw him get shot in two movies, and, coincidentally, both movies were released in 1995. Tom had a killer year.

Figuring that all of this was fate, I decided to look for wisdom in the movies of Tom Sizemore.

From Born on the Fourth of July

Thou shalt not kill.

From Point Break

Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.

From Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

Never chase buses or women. You’ll always be left behind.

The right woman can make you, and the wrong woman can break you.

From Passenger 57

Always bet on black.

Trust your instincts.

From Wyatt Earp

I think the secret old Mr. Death is holding is that it’s better for some of us on the other side.

Nothing counts so much as blood. The rest are just strangers.

From Natural Born Killers

Nobody can stop fate.

The media is like the weather, only it’s man-made weather.

You can’t hide from your shadow.

From Devil in a Blue Dress

You step out of your door in the morning, and you are already in trouble. The only question is are you on top of that trouble or not?

All you got is your friends.

From Saving Private Ryan

FUBAR

From Pearl Harbor

There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.

A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war.

 

Interview with C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb

9 May

If any of you are interested in presidential history, then check out my colleague on C-SPAN this Sunday.

Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics

Last month, I had the privilege of sitting down with C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb and being interviewed for his show, Q&A. It was a heady and nerve-wracking experience, not the least because I had been sick for a couple of days before I flew to D.C. (Remember that when you watch the interview.) We talked about Andrew Jackson, Southerner and spent a lot of time on the Trump-Jackson comparisons. It was a great experience, and I want to thank Brian and Q&A producer Nik Raval for asking me to do the interview.

If you’re interested in seeing the interview, it will be on C-SPAN this Sunday evening, May 14, at 8E/7C and again at 11E/10C.

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