Music: It”s Not That Hard Bein’ Green

Inspired at least in part by Lefty’s last mixed CD, which starts with Feel Flows, I decided to revisit one of mine. When I turned 50, I put together songs that were significant in some way in my life. This is that disc, except that I added four songs (noted in red) and dropped one (noted in purple). These are the original liner notes, with additions in red. This has gone out to the participants of Lefty’s current exchange. (I’ve received three discs from that so far, BTW.) And no, my disc does NOT include what Tosy called one of the great performances (Bein’ Green by Kermit), though I do have the inferior Frank Sinatra version in my collection.

This is NOT a list of my favorite songs, though I like many of them well enough. It IS a list of songs that, for a variety of reasons, resonate to a particular time, place and/or emotion over the years. – Roger Green, March 7, 2003

45 Men In A Telephone Booth (the Four Tophatters). I had intended to put this song first on the 2003 collection. I found it in a catalog of a Cadence Records collection, ordered it early in January, and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally out the disc together without it. The disc arrived in April 2003. One of my father’s favorite singles.

Sorry , I Ran All the Way Home (the Impalas) – my father had a bunch of 45s of story/songs I listened to as a kid: Middle of the House (Vaughan Monroe), I’m A Yogi, country songs such as Who Drank My Beer When I Was In the Rear (b-side- Nine Have Tried and Nine Have Died) and Bargain Days, Half Off. Only two others had I heard since: Beep Beep (the Playmates) and Bird Dog (Everly Brothers).

Cindy (Johnny Cash with Nick Cave) – my father learned to play guitar in 1959, and this song was in the repertoire. (Not this version, of course, which is from the posthumous Unearthed box set.)

Quintet – my mother took us to West Side Story, the first “grown up” movie I remember seeing. I didn’t know one could have several simultaneous melodies.

Roger Ramjet- Roger Green: easy name, eh? But, people always were putting an E at the end of Green. (And on our very short street, there WAS a Greene family.) My own grandfather spelled my name Rodger. And kids will always have their own nicknames for each other; some of mine were Mr. Green Jeans (from Captain Kangaroo) and later Mr. Rogers (from his Neighborhood.)

Drive My Car (Fab Four)- I was John (the smart one), sister Leslie was Paul (cute AND left-handed!), neighbor MJ was Ringo (she LOVED him), and sister Marcia was George (by default). We charged the neighbor kids two cents each to watch us lip sync to the Beatles VI LP. I read in some teen mag that Drive My Car was John Sebastian’s (Lovin’ Spoonful) fave song on Rubber Soul; EVERYBODY knew it was on Yesterday and Today. Turns out Sebastian was listening to the UK version (the Beatles’ preference). An early lesson in fact checking that serves a librarian well.

Take Me For A Little While (Vanilla Fudge) – carrying groceries for Mom. One afternoon, I was home listening to the album. Mom came home. I retrieved groceries, and found the stereo off. The crescendo made her think the record player was broken. Another time I carried groceries for her after work (at 2 a.m., 7/4/72), I discovered the shoulder I had injured the previous week in a car accident had more or less collapsed; six weeks of PT followed.

Feel Flows (Beach Boys)- freshman year in college, this guy named Richie and I would hang out, listening to the Band and Beatles, and hitchhike to NYC to concerts. I totally lost contact with him after that year.

Gone Away (Roberta Flack)- when romance went sour, I developed a quartet of songs to play: Sweet Bitter Love (QoS), this, My First Night Alone Without You (Jane Olivor), and Stay with Me (Lorraine Ellison). Sometimes added Remove This Doubt (Supremes).

Fantasy (Earth, Wind, and Fire) – Schenectady Arts Council received federal (CETA) money to have an arts enrichment program in the schools. I did the books, but the secretary and I would take off to OD Heck and sing for the patients. The choreographer needed a partner to help teach the elementary kids some dances, and I got sucker…, volunteered to do that.

Spider-Man- my first day of college, I met this weird Piscean named Mark. He was into comic books! I got sucked in, and particularly liked the webslinger. Later spent about a decade selling the four-color product.

It’s Love (the Young Rascals) – I bought the Groovin’ album on vinyl when it came out in 1966. It had the hits A Girl Like You, How Can I Be Sure, You Better Run, and the title tune. It also featured this song featuring jazz flutist Hubert Laws. When I got a stereo in the mid-1980s, instead of the boxy record player I had had for years, I was dismayed that the automatic return prevented me from playing this song to the end; it automatically rejected when it got too close to the center label. Ended up having to buy the CD, largely for this tune.

Naive Melody (Talking Heads) – the ’83 show was one of the best concerts I ever saw. This song is about rediscovery on the way to Cooperstown.

23rd Psalm (Bobby McFerrin) – Eric Strand came to town to be Trinity UMC’s choir director. He stayed in the apt. of my SO at the time and me. Eric & I saw BMcF on the Today show, and I was so taken by the performance that I bought about six copies of the album to give away. Later, Eric transcribed this song, and choir members Bob, Tim & I sang at church. Eric gave me the high part, which I did almost entirely in falsetto. Someone came up to another church member, expressing concern that a “gay guy” was singing in church.

Harvest Moon (Neil Young) – about lost love. Also, about the only Neil song my ex-office mate Mary could stand.

Lullabye (Billy Joel) – the SBDC state meeting in Binghamton had an a capella group perform this song. The melancholy of the song (and the back story) parallels my melancholy about the state of my old hometown.

Church (Lyle Lovett) – when four of us were in tight office quarters, with very distinct likes (and especially dislikes), Lyle passed muster with all of us. Closing act of a great Newport Folk Festival at SPAC.

JEOPARDY! – an NBC daytime game that I used to watch with my Aunt Deana. I was chastised for writing that; “You lied! You included it because you were ON it!” True, I was on it, but no lie, I DID watch it every noon with Deana.

Now That I Found You (Alison Krauss) – THIS is the way a cover version should be done, recognizable yet distinct from the original. One of my wife’s two favorite artists; oddly, both of them have last names beginning with KRA. We saw AK at the Palace in 2002. What I didn’t mention was that Carol and I went out from the fall of 1994 to the spring of 1996, and I spent much of the next couple years trying to woo her back.

At Last (Etta James) – one of five great songs on the Rain Man soundtrack. Oh yeah, Carol & I danced to it at our wedding. If it is cliche, I don’t care.

Baby Mine (Bonnie Raitt) – Well, nothing much has happened since the wedding. Oh, yeah, there IS that small person who’s been hanging around the last couple years.

But I axed this piece as too wordy and too talky:
Woody Guthrie – my father was a Singer of Folk Songs, and became rather well known in the Binghamton area as “The Lonesome and Lonely Traveller”. Eventually, Leslie and I began singing with him. This brace of songs I heard at the Cap Rep theater not long after he died were among his repertoire.

Now, for a limited time, you too can get this collection of songs from me, and they’re free, free, FREE! Think of it as a belated birthday present from me. Just e-mail me with your name and address. But please do so before May 5 , for reasons that will become clear fairly soon.
Thanks to Lefty for his great theological album. Thanks to the participants in Greg’s last exchange. Maybe some decade, I’ll review them, but possibly not.
A new Beatles album – really.
Kurt Schaffenberger’s Mutant Human Species. Click on the two-page spread to enlarge. Lois Lane fans will especially enjoy this.

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