When you Ask Roger Anything, he has to answer. Here’s something from my friend Walter regarding what I wrote about the Rolling Stone list of greatest songs.
But what WASN’T in the 500 that you would have included?
A brutal question. First off, it’s narrowed to the popular song, as opposed to tunes before 1930, so. definitionally, it’s lacking.
That said, the FIRST recording I thought of was Biko by Peter Gabriel, which, besides being a tremendous tribute, inspired a whole lot of activism. Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young was a response to a terrible event. For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield was definitely a huge part of the soundtrack of the 1960s
There was a dearth of country music; one Patsy Cline, two Hank Williams, two Johnny Cash one Dixie Chicks, one Kacey Musgraves, a couple of others. I was hoping for something from Lyle Lovett, k.d. lang, Garth Brooks. I might suggest Baby, Now Tha I Found You – Alison Krauss; Man Of Constant Sorrow – Foggy Mountain Boys; I Fall To Pieces – Patsy Cline; and Hurt – Johnny Cash, for instance.
Only a handful of jazz tracks made it. I’d add Take Five – Dave Brubeck. And there was not much older music. Perhaps Nature Boy – Nat King Cole or – and why not? –White Christmas – Bing Crosby.
Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin La Bamba – Ritchie Valens The Twist – Chubby Checker. Twice went to #1. The Hank Ballard version is arguably better. The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel. My favorite song by the duo.
On Quora, there are about four dozen responses to the question, “What is the most boomer thing ever?” I don’t even know what that means. But someone named Christine J. Jones, who I do not know, answered.
Here are some of her responses.
I wear a wristwatch every day, and it’s an analog watch (not digital). Not every day, but when I was taking my daughter to colleges in Manhattan and Long Island, the watch was quite handy.
I have a flip phone and I use it to call people. That’s right folks, I call people on my phone! I miss my flip phone, which I lost in NYC about five years ago. And I’ve never taken to the three replacements I’ve had. I have a landline phone in my house, which costs $10/month. Yup.
I wear glasses and I always wear my mask when venturing out. Yup, especially indoors. I was on a CDTA bus this month, and the ONE person not wearing a mask was the only one with runny eyes and was sneezing. It could have been seasonal allergies. Still, I gave him the evil eye, though I doubt he noticed. My sunglasses fit over the top of my other glasses. Yes, and they’re damn cheap!
I use a desktop computer and do not own a laptop or tablet or smartphone. My desktop died, alas, so I have a laptop and also a tablet. I carry a purse or a wallet. Wallet.
I have a paper notebook hanging on my fridge where we list any groceries that we need from the store. Once a week, I go shopping, using my LIST. This is the system of my younger, barely Boomer wife. All my slacks are “stretchy” material, and I don’t wear blue jeans (ever). Mostly true. I park my car as far away from the front door as possible when shopping and I carry reusable bags in my car because I refuse to pay for plastic bags. My wife parks far away, for exercise reasons. She does carry reusable bags. I have a backpack.
I cut and color my own hair because I think paying $30–$80 for a haircut is highway robbery. I LIKE getting a haircut. During COVID, both my wife and daughter have cut my hair. Now I may go to a barbershop, but wearing a mask and getting one’s beard trimmed are at odds. I am pretty feisty on Quora, so don’t let my Motherly face fool you. I can spar with the best of them, so… Bring It On ! Arguing online is largely pointless.
Mary Ann Besser uses debit or cash. I’ve increasingly found cash actually not acceptable, most recently on the food car on an Amtrak train. And debit cards don’t provide the protection of a credit card.
I occasionally actually make a trip to the library to find a book I’m interested in (yes, I use their computer to find it and not a card catalog). I still prefer a real book with pages and I do understand the Dewey Decimal system. Well, yeah. I refuse to use personal assistants like Alexa”, SIRI, Bixby, or Cortana. I read “1984”. There is no way “Big Brother will be watching me.” It’s less Big Brother, more I need my brain to keep working.
Some other person ranted: “America has this invasion/ infestation of second and third world lifetime welfare recipients/parasites, we are their intravenous feeding. They do NOT live like us, think like us, they do NOT like America, they make America into a second and third world country, they do NOT assimilate.” Well, obviously I TOTALLY disagree, but I’m, again, not getting into an online debate.
As an avid card player since my youth, I had tried but failed to interest my daughter in playing a number of games over the years. For instance, at the (almost) annual hearts game at our house, I gently tried to gently show an interest, but she had not.
But when the two of us were on one of our college excursions, she asked to play gin rummy. Basically, it involves the two players being dealt 10 cards. The players alternating drawing cards from the remaining deck, or the top card discarded by the opponents. The idea is to create three or four cards of the same rank (sevens, jacks, e.g.) or runs of three or more cards consecutively in the same suit (6, 7, 8 of hearts, e.g.).
What’s strange is that it was only this summer that she decided that she’d just learn how to play online. It was the game my grandfather, McKinley Green, and I used to play for years when I was roughly 10 to when I went to college when I was 18. So it was our “thing.”
It is my favorite two-person card game, and my daughter turns out to be quite good at it, beating me about 60% of the time. Oddly, this pleases me tremendously. The budding card shark also started wanting to play Go Fish with me, another game she did not really embrace as a child. She beats me at that too.
She wanted to learn how to play poker. I had always been of the opinion that poker wasn’t interesting unless you had 1) three, or preferably more players, and 2) wagering, even if it’s pennies from the change jar. It wasn’t a game I’ve played a lot, and there are a myriad number of ways to play.
Of course, the first thing we needed to do is teach her the relative ranks of poker hands.
From lowest to highest: High Card, One Pair, Two Pair, Three of a Kind, Straight (five cards in numerical order, but not in the same suit), Flush (five cards in the same suit, not in numerical order), Full House (three of a kind plus a pair), Four of a Kind, Straight Flush (five cards in a row, all in the same suit), Royal Flush(10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, all of the same suit), Five of a Kind (only possible with wild cards).
After some frankly boring experiments, we came up with a game where each player got five cards face down. Then there were two common cards, face up. Each player could trade any cards in their hands. It was surprisingly engaging, trying to fill in that inside straight generated enough excitement to play any time we had some downtime.
Not exactly a card game, but my wife, my daughter, and I played a truly rousing game of Sorry. It was strange. I’d say, “I can’t get hit unless one of the others draws an 8,” not a common card in the deck. They drew an 8; ouch! I told my wife, that if I draw a 10, I’d go back one space and hit her piece, and I did. If this match had been recorded, it’d be on ESPN forever. We were all within 8 spaces of going out. My wife won, but it was truly quite exciting.
As I’ve noted in the past, my father was a singer of folk songs in the Binghamton, NY area. He performed roughly from 1959 to 1974, when he moved to Charlotte, NC. I didn’t know the source of most of the songs at the time.
Not incidentally, his designation was quite deliberate. He did not want to be called a folk singer, for some of the songs he performed – Do Lord, Walk With Me Lord, So Soon in the Morning, I’m On My Way to Freedom Land, Amen, and others were more gospel.
Here are some of the songs in his repertoire. The songlist would vary, both over time and depending on the audience – children, church, community, e.g. The photo was given to me by my friend Bill, who I’ve known since kindergarten, and tweaked by Arthur .
My father performed for my class, and Leslie’s, about once per semester for about four years. He always performed Goodnight, Irene, the Leadbelly/Weavers song, in my class. This led to false speculation that I had a crush on my classmate Irene.
When I speculate about the original source of when Dad heard a particular song, it’s based on what I recall of his record collection, which included Leadbelly, Odetta, Nina Simone, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Harry Belafonte, who he vaguely modeled himself after. He also had some folk compilation albums. But none of his performances copied the records. He made them his own.
Lonesome and Lonely Traveler. This was his theme song, even when my sister Leslie and I joined him. He likely heard it from The Weavers, although he might have heard the Limelighters version. Here’s a nice rendition by Joe and Eddie.
When I First Came to This Land. This Pennsylvania Dutch song he probably heard by Pete Seeger.
Two Brothers, written by Irving Gordon (1951), performed by Kay Starr, and later, Jimmie Rogers. Did he first hear The Weavers version? Later: Dusty Springfield. My father, who never learned to play the guitar properly played a nice C-C-D-D#-E riff.
Cindy, Cindy is old, certainly by 1904, with several versions in the marketplace. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash both performed it. I suspect dad heard the latter’s version. Listen to Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, which I own; also Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee. The Green Family Singers’ schtick involved Leslie and me humming, extending the verses.
A Hole in the Bucket. This may go back to 18th century Germany. Dad almost certainly learned it from Harry Belafonte and Odetta and not Sesame Street. This became Leslie and my tour de force, milking it for all it was worth.
Worried Man. This was recorded as Worried Man Blues by The Carter Family (1930), Woody Guthrie (1940), and later with Woody’s contemporaries such as Pete Seeger in the 1950s. With new verses and dropping “Blues”, The Kingston Trio recorded it in 1959, and I suspect it is their version Dad heard.
Take This Hammer appears to date from the late nineteenth century, probably the 1870s. Dad was influenced by Leadbelly. BTW, in my CD collection is this Notting Hillbillies track, called Railroad Worksong
Follow the Drinking Gourd is an African American folk song first published in 1928. Was his version influenced by Joe and Eddie? Also, listen to Eric Bibb.
Sinner Man. I’d think that he was listening to Nina Simone, but it could have been the Swan Silvertones, the Weavers, or others. Here’s a take by Cory Wells and the Enemys, which I have on a Three Dog Night compilation.
The Car Song was a Woody Guthrie song. My dad used to do both a child’s voice and the father’s until I joined in and did the child bit.
Passing Through was a 1948 folk song written by Dick Blakeslee. I suspect Dad heard Pete Seeger, but it was also recorded by The Highwaymen, Cisco Houston, and Earl Scruggs. Apparently, Leonard Cohen later made it famous. Here’s a version by Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, and Buffy Sainte Marie.
How am I going to get through the rest of the pandemic? Eighteen months after it hit our area, I have found the need to analyze the ups and downs of my mental health.
Thursday, March 12, 2020: Last choir rehearsal to date. The next day, sensing things would shut down for a while, I took out seven Marvel DVDs (which I didn’t watch for a few months). The church was canceled that Sunday.
Sunday, March 22: Church started on Facebook, with the pastors, their older daughter, and one church member. The music was previously recorded from past services. An ersatz experience, but better than nothing. It got better over time, with section leaders and a handful of others taping music specifically for the service. BYOC – bring your own communion, often Wheat Thins and my MIL’s homemade grape juice.
April: Starting to feel a bit isolated, I started to call people on the telephone, two per day until Memorial Day, Then one a day until August.
April 22, 2020: My father-in-law died, unrelated to COVID. His three surviving children were with him. No service at that time.
Mid-August to early October: Worked the Census. Did I feel totally safe going door-to-door wearing a mask? Why no, but it was important work.
December: Missing the chance to sing at church during Lent and now Advent sucketh.
I’m not throwing away my shot!
January 2021: There are a couple of vaccines out there. When will I get mine? When will I get mine?
February: When will I get mine? My wife got her first shot.
March: I got both of my injections, my wife got her second and my daughter got her first! Yay!
April 6: I went out to eat, outside, with three of my oldest friends, Carol and Karen and Bill, plus Karen’s old friend Michael. Besides being happy seeing them, this was incredibly liberating.
May 1: our daughter tossed her parents out of the house so she could clean the room. So her parents saw the tulips in Albany’s Washington Park, hung out at Peebles Park, saw the waterfalls at Cohoes, which despite it being in Albany County, I hadn’t seen in 30 years and my wife had never been there. Then we went to a small Lebanese restaurant and ate… INDOORS. There was only one other party there, but still. Radical stuff.
June 21: First day of IN-PERSON church worship! Hallelujah! Masks in church, but the coffee hour in the parking lot.
Just as I thought we were coming out of it, the country, and indeed my county, was experiencing upticks in the infection rates. So it felt as though every other plan that I was involved with was being altered.
I know I’m hardly the only one. Massive Science noted last month. “The past six months in the US provides a clear example of how vaccine complacency works, showing how over-optimistic assumptions about vaccines can lead to the elimination of other precautions too quickly. “
So, for instance, “Saturday, October 16 was supposed to be Young@Heart’s triumphant return to the stage in our hometown. And then came the Delta variant. Suddenly, it was – once again – no longer safe for us to rehearse together and perform live in person.” they’re doing the virtual thing.
The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library has changed its Literary Legends gala plans from about 150 people indoors and unmasked to 75 people, vaccinated and masked, a more difficult task.
I had hoped that, after a year and a half of not singing in the church choir, surely we’d be back together. Alas, no. And there are myriad other examples, from performances limited to funerals still postponed. And we’re in the situation in large part because… well, you know why.
Not so funny
I know that there are “Funny Vaccine Memes To Get You Through The Rest Of The Pandemic.” They are so NOT working for me. (And to be honest, some of them I just don’t get.)
So I’ve become angry, even enraged, by the situation. Now, anger doesn’t last in me. But sadness does. After railing against the inanity, I’ve felt melancholy at best, or likely depressed.
I’m trying to discover remedies. Reading books won’t help, because I can’t focus on them presently. No video of more than about seven minutes can hold my attention. I read the lifestyle tips ad nauseum, which are just not attainable at present. I’m not sure of the solution; I’ve opted against medicating with alcohol.
A few months ago, I sought the service of a psychologist. It was remote, and it didn’t “take” for me. I’ll probably seek that route again.