___ New Year

 

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…

King Henry, “Henry V”, William Shakespeare

 

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.

Author unknown

 

Well, Happy New Year, everybody!

Just curious: how many New Year Resolutions have been blown completely to smithereens by now?

I know, that’s mean. Sorry.

My resolution is to lose more hair this year. Pretty sure I can keep that one.

I realize it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me. I’d like to post more often than I do; really, I would. It’s not like I don’t have things on my mind and my heart. I have a lot, actually.

But, it’s a fight for me to just write this.

My level of concentration is low these days. My brain just can’t seem to stay focused on any one thing too long. Just a byproduct of depression.

Another is the temptation to delete everything I write. So I’m posting this before I give in.

Bye.

 

Saturday Night’s Alright for Rocking

 

As long as there’s been rock and roll, there have been rock and roll idols.

From Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Little Richard, to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, to the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Madonna, U2 and more, there have been certain stars who have shone brighter than all the rest.

You bought all their albums, you put their poster on your wall and, if you were lucky, you got to go see them perform in person. And you shared the experience with a whole host of other fanatics.

The brightest star for yours truly has always been, and always will be, Elton John. Sir Elton John, that is.

6CD698EA-9698-4D10-B665-1057CE09AAB3

This past Saturday, I went to see him in concert. For the fourth time.

And he was absolutely awesome!!

He was energetic, engaging and in peak form. At seventy-one, no less. Just incredible.

 

Elton claims this tour is his last, even calling it his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, a twist on the title of his popular album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. 

Yeah, right; how many other performers have made that same claim, only to turn around and say, “Ehh, maybe not.” And I get it; performing must be awfully tough for a performer to give up. All that adoration is like oxygen to him.

So, we’ll see if, at the end of this three year worldwide tour, Elton sticks to his word.

But, if this was really my last time to see him in person, he definitely made it memorable.

 

AA639312-D1CB-40B7-9DF0-4D4557BD5763

 

The show began with all the lights off, and snippets of several songs throughout Elton’s long and illustrious career playing over the speakers, getting us all into an appropriate frenzy.

Suddenly, on came the spotlight, and there he was, seated at his piano, where he announced his presence by emphatically striking the opening chord of Bennie and the Jets.

And, so began two and a half solid hours of spectacular entertainment. He was totally on top of his game all night.

 

3495FD36-7D05-40D5-987C-36884283C3D4

 

Among the Elton John classics we heard that night were:

Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, Philadelphia Freedom, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me, Candle in the Wind, Your Song, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, The Bitch Is Back, I’m Still Standing, I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, Burn Down the Mission, Daniel and oh, so many more.

I’ve also got to single out three standout performances. There was Indian Sunset, an obscure, but brilliantly written tune by Elton, for an equally brilliant vignette by his longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin.

There was an extended version of Levon, featuring some of Elton’s best piano playing of the night. It even featured the familiar Elton pose, head back, eyes shut, mouth wide open as he pounded the keys with abandon. I mean, he and his band absolutely rocked the house.

And there was the crowd favorite, Crocodile Rock, which greatly pleased, among others, my wife to hear. The fun part was when Elton and the band stopped playing to hear the audience’s full-throated rendition of “Laaaa, la-la-la-la laaa…” in the chorus. We sounded great, if you ask me.

.7B9A2482-4C74-449F-86FE-9327FD3CED2B

 

He closed the show with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, in keeping with the theme of this tour. As he sang, a video montage played onscreen of all his different looks, and a few of his more memorably outrageous outfits (Donald Duck? Really?) over his career.

As I watched, I thought, I don’t think anyone has had quite the journey that Elton John has had. This dude has had an amazing life, not just as an entertainer, but as a human being. The places he’s been. The people he’s met. The things he’s seen and done. His triumph over addictions. His significant contribution in the fight against AIDS.A456E868-1E53-4E1B-9BC8-71BFAF6FC56F

He has to just look back over his life sometimes and just think, Wow.

Early in the show, Elton lauded the singular talent of the late Aretha Franklin, reminding us we would never see the likes of her again.

Well, I say the same thing for Sir Elton John.

If this could actually be your last chance to see his show, I highly recommend you go. Performers like him come along once in a lifetime, and that’s the truth.

Sir Elton, thanks for all the good times. You are my once and forever rock and roll idol.

 

Year End Review

 

B96AE25C-C6AC-43EB-BCE0-E27DB6B115D7

 

As another year draws to a close, I’m still here. Alive.

Now, that may not sound like that big a deal to you, but all my fellow depression sufferers out there can appreciate the significance of that statement, because they know.

They know how much of my time is spent in absolute indifference to everything and everyone, and much of the rest of my time I’m depressed or angry.

They know nobody wants to see any of that, so I try to hide it around other people. Except my poor wife, who gets the whole experience, making her life much tougher than it ought to be.

(I truly hate that.)

They know self-care is not much of a priority, despite focusing most of my attention on me. My doctor tells me exercise helps with depression, but if I don’t care about exercising…

They know that, deep down, I actually hate feeling like this, that I actually want to get better, but I’m my own biggest obstacle to that process. I stopped seeing a therapist; I mean, if I haven’t taken to heart the suggestions she’s offered me already, what’s the use going anymore?

And they know the indifference can occasionally skate out onto the thin ice of desperation, hopelessness and even suicidal thoughts.

So, to still be here – living, breathing, at the end of another year – is, if not an accomplishment, a relief, at least.

Fortunately, I know, worst-case scenario, I have lifelines to hold onto so I don’t fall through the really thin ice.

Which is good to know.

 

I know this is the time of year to be jolly, and I’m sorry if I just dumped a bucket of cold water on that. I just wanted to let you know how I am as we approach a new year. I don’t know what’s in store next year, but somewhere in me is the hope that I can begin to move forward, mentally and physically, toward better health.

Meantime, I promise to have as Merry a Christmas as I can. 😊 Please do the same, all of you. Enjoy family, friends, food, music, decorating, shop…no, not shopping, forget that. But all the rest.

’Tis the season, after all.

 

 

 

More Requests for Your Carolers

 

8D713275-146D-4FE0-978A-B14179C467A5

 

So, about this time a year ago, I shared a list of some of my favorite renditions of Christmas tunes; some familiar, others, less so.

Well, here’s a few more of my favorites for you to check out. Enjoy:

Don’t Save It All for Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, Céline Dion. The first one, a reminder to keep the Christmas spirit alive year round; the second, an uptempo love song about spending a special night with your special someone.

I’m also including The Prayer, by Céline Dion and Andrea Bocelli. Even though it’s technically not a Christmas song, it’s included on Céline’s holiday CD, These Are Special Times. But, everybody deserves to hear these two sing together. Andrea is, for my money, the greatest vocalist in the world, and the note he holds at the end of this piece is absolutely breathtaking.

Run Rudolph Run (live), Bryan Adams. Bryan does this Chuck Berry classic justice.

Jingle Bell Rock, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Everybody knows the Bobby Helms rendition, but this instrumental take is a lot more fun.

‘Zat You, Santa Claus?, Louis Armstrong and the Commanders. Louis gets an unexpected visitor one night. Who might it be? Hmmm…

Someday at Christmas, Stevie Wonder. This song was originally released in 1967, but its message is as timely as ever, which means, unfortunately, Someday hasn’t arrived yet.

Louisiana Christmas Day, Aaron Neville. A little zydeco music for Christmas. It’ll get your feet movin’.

The Twelve Days of Christmas (live), The Christmas Can-Can, Straight No Chaser. Two hilarious tunes by this men’s à capella group.

Christmas is Just Around the Corner, Barry Manillow. Barry knows how to deliver a happy tune, and this one about anticipation of the Big Day is yet another example.

Silver Bells, Kenny G. Jazzy instrumental version, with Kenny G.’s smooth sax out front.

Please Come Home for Christmas, Eagles. Fellow Texan Don Henley gives this one the proper blues treatment.

All I Want for Christmas Is You, Vince Vance and the Valiants. Country Christmas ballad featuring terrific lead vocals by Lisa Layne.

All I Want for Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey. Yeah, this is the one we all know. Mariah rocks it.

Little Saint Nick, The Beach Boys. Because, after all, it just ain’t Christmas without The Beach Boys, am I right?

O Holy Night, anybody. Best sacred Christmas number of them all.

 

There you are. Enjoy the music you love with the people you love this holiday season. Season’s Eatings, um, Greetings. Peace and love to you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Wonder

 

A young, brown-skinned man, his wife and their newborn baby, fled their native country after learning it wasn’t safe for them to stay. They believed their sweet baby’s very life was in grave danger.

So, they sought asylum in a neighboring country.

Now, the people in this neighboring country had no idea who this man and woman were that sought entry.

Were they terrorists, or members of some bloodthirsty gang, intent on murdering everyone in their way?

Were they trying to smuggle something from where they had come?

Were they trying to enter the country illegally? Would they then steal jobs from some other, more deserving people, or expect to get a free ride in their new “home”, not paying their taxes or medical costs?

What possible consequences would there be for allowing this family asylum in their country?

Perhaps this can provide a clue:

The parents’ names were Joseph and Mary, and the baby’s name was Jesus.

You can read their story in Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Matthew, in the New Testament.

Egypt allowed them in. Would we have just closed our border and tear gassed them?

Remember, they were foreigners, they weren’t white, and nobody knew them.

 

Peace on Earth.

 

 

Tired

 

I’m tired, boss…mostly, I’m tired of people bein’ ugly to each other.

John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), “The Green Mile”, 1999

 

I’m tired, too, John.

By now, I’m flat wore out, as we say around here.

Lately, as you know, people are being ugly to each other in all kinds of ways, and I’m plenty tired of all of it, but especially…

I’m tired of people taking it upon themselves to go and shoot several other people, for any reason or for none at all.

You can’t go to church, you can’t go to the grocery store, you can’t go to a bar, you can’t go to school, you can’t f****ng go anywhere that there isn’t the possibility of getting shot to death.

The American flag may as well be flown at half mast from now on.

And the sadness of that is absolutely overwhelming.

This is how bad it’s gotten: One of the survivors from this week’s shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, was also in Las Vegas, Nevada a year ago, when that shooting occurred.

But another survivor of the Vegas shooting was killed this week in Thousand Oaks.

When people are present at more than one mass murder event…

The really cynical among us probably wonder what these gunmen have against country music, around which both these events centered.

The rest of us know it’s no laughing matter at all.

 

All these people. All these precious, beautiful, innocent people. Attending their classes. Worshipping their god. Enjoying a night out with friends.

Unaware.

Then, in the blink of an eye…

Utterly incomprehensible, unspeakable tragedy. My God, the tragedy.

I’m not gonna trot out all the gun violence statistics we probably could all recite by now. I’m not gonna bring up the gun owners and their Second Amendment rights. I’m not gonna rage against our government’s continued impotence over this crisis as the body count just keeps going up. I’m not gonna point out how the phrase “thoughts and prayers” is, by now, as empty and hollow as the barrel of a spent gun.

Because I’m tired.

I’m not numb to it, mind you. I haven’t quit caring about it; not at all.

I’m just…tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally tired.

First, the horror, then the sorrow, then the anger and frustration. Over and over and over. It wears you down, I tell you.

John Coffey, I’m right there with you, brother.

 

This Is It

 

Okay, friends and neighbors, today’s the day. Election Day!

As you may or may not have heard, this one is very important. It will determine, among other things, the makeup of our Congress, the body of government charged with making our nation’s laws.

You have a voice in who occupies those seats in Congress.

If you haven’t already voted, by golly, GO DO IT! The time for sitting out is over. America’s government has gotten to the shape it’s in, on both sides of the aisle, due in no small part to citizens’ lack of participation in the process.

And yes, I own my part in that.

Well, if donald trump has done anything good for America, he’s gotten a lot more people interested in voting, so thumbs up for that.

So please, take the time and go cast your vote today. And don’t let anyone intimidate you into not doing it. Don’t let anyone get in your way. You have the right to vote. The Constitution of the United States says so.

You have until 7:00 PM, local time. Let your voice be heard.

Then we’ll see what happens.

Split Decision

 

I see no way around this, folks.

I see no hope for reconciliation. I see no hope for compromise. I see no hope for even coexistence.

These past few years have revealed an ugly truth to me: the United States of America can no longer exist in its present form. No matter the outcome of this upcoming election, there’s no denying the fact that the fabric of this country has a very large tear, one that is beyond the point of sewing back up, I’m afraid.

Therefore, I think the time has come for a divorce.

America must split into two smaller nations: MAGA Nation and The Rest Of Us.

It’s perfect. MAGA Nation can then surround itself in a tall, fortified, secure wall, keeping it safe from all those it hates/fears, such as nonwhites, non-heteros, non-Evangelical Christians and non-Fox News “journalists”.

Everyone in MAGA Nation can keep his or her own arsenal of weapons, automatic and otherwise, as protected by the Second Amendment, the only one that matters.

Environmental protections will be completely irrelevant in MAGA Nation because, of course, there’s no global warming there.

The guys (not men) of MAGA Nation can just do whatever they want to the women, with absolutely no worry of any future consequences. Hell, they may even end up as Supreme Court justices.

donald trump, A.K.A God’s Annointed Man, can attain the Dictator for Life title he so openly covets from Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. There’ll be no need for elections, you see, because in MAGA Nation, he would always win unanimously!

And no more fake news. The Big Orange can be MAGA Nation’s one and only source for trusted, reliable news, primarily via Twitter.

Meanwhile, The Rest Of Us will live in a land that aspires to the highest ideals of freedom, diversity and equality, takes climate change seriously, trusts the media while holding it accountable for the veracity of its reporting, and treats every person with the dignity and respect to which we are all entitled.

And the two nations can just leave each other alone.

I think this is the best solution. It’s either that or a brutal, violent, bloody war, culminating in either America’s reunification or its utter collapse.

I really don’t see any other options at this point. Do you?

P.S.: VOTE!!

Just Park, Will You?

 

Lately, I’m not happy with anything I write, and it gets really frustrating.

But today, I think I’ve figured out the reason.

I believe that, two and a half years into this blog, I have just run out of anything worthwhile to say.

I think I need to go on sabbatical for awhile. So, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.

I apologize to any of you who sit by your computer, anxiously awaiting my next post. (assuming anyone actually does that.) The wait is gonna be a bit longer this time.

I will be back, I promise. Just not sure when. But, I need a little time.

Hopefully, I will reward your patience. Thanks so much for following me this far. I genuinely appreciate your support.

Meantime, I wish you love, peace, health and happiness.

Later, y’all. 😘