MY FAVORITE VERSION (above), an early session
Birmingham (version 2)
Birmingham (version 3)
Birmingham (version 4)
I suppose Randy climbed the ancient pyramids near T-Town, in Moundville (Mauvila). He read up about the Bessemer Furnaces and the Steel Mills in their heyday in B’ham. Man do I love listening to Randy Newman. It makes you a better person, smarter, more alive. The man is a tonic for what ails.
So just for fun, here are four slightly different recordings of “Birmingham” by Randy Newman, who has something to say about us Southerners. And Randy is himself a good ol’ boy of sorts, by way of New Orleans. Worthy stuff. – Harry, March 5, 2016.
My Old Man
Far From Me
I was listening to some of the 100+ John Prine songs that I own and although I have heard them countless times, sitting as I was, alone in my home office, I, most unexpectedly, burst into tears. While music has, on a couple of occasions, had this effect on me, I guess that I am grateful that a song can choke me up and get to me, on occasion. It just caught me by surprise this afternoon.
Now, these two songs, the first, written by the late, great singer/songwriter, Steve Goodman, who was probably the best one man band that I ever saw, penned “MY OLD MAN,” with lyrics as heartfelt as was ever written, sung here by his lifelong friend, Mssr. Prine, who wrote and sings his original song, “FAR FROM ME.”
Prine, who, to my mind, is inarguably among the handful of great singer/songwriters walking around on Planet Earth, sings Steve’s “My Old Man,” and although I am not keen on the penny whistles on the track, the pre-song story/stage banter is pretty damn great. And then we come to “Far From Me” which drills right down to bedrock, in Prine’s casual way, regarding love, pain, and loss. This one isn’t one of Johns’ better known songs, but it pretty much kills me whenever I happen to hear it. – Harry, March 4, 2016, a Friday afternoon, light snow in the air.
Mutt Romney Blues
No Banker Left Behind
John Lee Hooker For President
For nearly half a century, back when JFK was in the White House, Ryland Cooder has been picking ’em up and layin’ ’em down; truly among the great guitar players with a quirky sense of humor coupled with a perceptive mind (reminescent of Randy Newman, albeit less prolific, not that Randy is a master of the slide guitar, but thankfully, Ry sure is.
With all the bluster and political nit-wittery out there, I thought it might be fun for you to listen to these three songs. MUTT ROMNEY BLUES is a retelling of the apparently true story of when Mitt Romney loaded up the station wagon for a long vacation, and finding no room in the car for the family dog, proceeded to put him on the roof rack in some form or fashion. As Ry puts it in the song, Mutt was “traveling wrong.”
NO BANKER LEFT BEHIND is a tribute to the greed of Wall Street, a particularly appropriate song for the politics of 2016.
And JOHN LEE HOOKER FOR PRESIDENT is one man’s attempt to nominate someone who is as well qualified to be President of the United States as more than one of our current crop of candidates. – Harry, writing is two days before Super Tuesday Primary Day. An appreciation of the music of Ry Cooder.
Paul Thorn is one of my favorite singer/songwriter/rock stars. This cat from Tupelo, has a way with a pen and writes these great, quirky ballads. He also has one of the best lead guitar players (Bill Hinds) walking the face of the earth, in Thorn’s band. He also has a drummer who is rock fucking solid. A HarryShots favorite: here is “Bull Mountain Bridge” from the cd, What The Hell Is Goin On?
Last night I had the opportunity to see Jim Carter, aka Mr. Carson the butler of Highcleer Castle and Downton Abbey fame. What a generous and wonderful person, engaging and full of British humor with a bit of gentle mischief thrown in.
Quite remarkable in person, he, of course, sounds exactly like Mr. Carson and looks exactly like him, albeit without the tuxedo, dressed, as he was, in casual 21st century attire, a mere sport coat.
“Mr. Carson” was a lot of fun to watch and listen to. He was relaxed and comfortable on stage, as you might imagine him to be. Much of his “show” was amusing, occasionally hilarious, given that he actually doesn’t take himself too seriously, quite the striking dichotomy when compared to his Mr. Carson, the ever stuffy butler.
Jim was in Boston fund raising for victims of the Nepalese earthquakes of 2015.
Everyone certainly had a great time, and as the final season of Downton Abbey comes to its conclusion in the next couple of weeks, last night provided a happy and fitting ending that for six years has been a large part of Sunday night TV for millions all over the world. He didn’t tell us the ending, so I can’t help you there.
The night was equally divided with a monologue stories and anecdotes about being part of Downton Abbey, followed by audience questions, which proved very amusing.
Given that he is recognized all over the world, this late in life “stardom” has provided Jim with a remarkable platform for charitable endeavors, and in this regard, good man that he is, “Mr Carson” is off to Nepal next month, working for his chosen charity, WandAid and the Linda Cruse Foundation. Well done, Jim Carter, and thank you.
I was driving around early this afternoon, doing several local errands, and I suddenly realized that, through the eyes of others, I must be
officially considered as “crotchety.”
Synonyms for CROTCHETY include: bad-tempered, irascible, irritable, grumpy, grouchy, cantankerous, short-tempered, tetchy, testy, curmudgeonly, ill-tempered, ill-humored, ill-natured, cross-grained, peevish, cross, fractious, pettish, waspish, crabbed, crabby, crusty, prickly, touchy, snappish, snappy, cranky, ornery
They use it in this sentence, which certainly fits the bill personally, “it’s the dreadful arthritis that has made him so crotchety”
I’m not sure how this happened, probably slowly over time, but here I have a crabby, snappy, ornery sort of personage.
There are quite a few things that tick me off these days, and frankly, most of the things that piss me off really aren’t new or have suddenly turned up. My list is partial, and I expect it to grow very long indeed.
BAD DRIVERS (including way to slow drivers, no lights at night drivers, servers and lane changers, lots of trucks and delivery vans with bad drivers
at the wheel, and those that ride their brakes for no apparent reason.)
PEOPLE WHO WALK WHILE TALKING ON THEIR PHONES
PEOPLE WHO DRIVE WHILE TALKING ON THEIR PHONES
CLERKS WHO GIVE YOU 99cents IN CHANGE
THINGS THAT BREAK OR NO LONGER WORK
AUTO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
ALL THE BAD TV SHOWS
HORROR MOVIES, THEIR ADS, AND GROTESQUE VIOLENCE
PAULA EBBEN AT WBZ TV4 IN BOSTON (please don’t call her a journalist)
WEATHERMAN PETE BOUCHARD AT NECN (I guess better that he forecasts)
AND I DON’T WANT TO HEAR A THING ABOUT IOWA POLITICS FOR AT LEAST 4 MORE YEARS
LOSING. I AM ALL THE MORE CROTCHETY SINCE THE PATRIOTS LOST A CHANCE TO DEFEND THE SUPER BOWL AGAIN.
PERIODONTISTS WHO KNOCK OFF YOUR CROWN AND EXPECT YOU TO PAY FOR A NEW ONE
RCN, MY CABLE COMPANY
ALL THE ROBOCALLS AND UNWANTED CALLS ON MY CELLPHONE AND MY HOME PHONE
NO DOUBT, THE LIST WILL GROW EVER LONGER, I AM, AFTER ALL, UNOFFICIALLY, A GRUMPY SORT.
From their brand new album, released earlier today, is my favorite track from the record, the alternative mix entitled “Just As Strange.”
New England’s Susan Tedeschi brings her vocal and guitar talents along with her husband, Derek Trucks, who brings his guitar chops and the chemical brew they and their bandmates create, propels them to ride the crest of the rock and roll, blues tinged, world.
That was one long poorly written sentence,if I may say so. Sorry bout that.
The new album by The Tedeschi-Trucks Band is entitled, “Let Me Get By.”
I have a different take on why the Patriots lost to Denver. Lack of Imagination. Utter lack of offensive imagination.
Tom Brady has been hurried, sacked, pressured more this year than any in his incredible career. When you have no running game to speak of and your offensive line can’t protect the QB, you have to make an in-game adjustment. If you can’t pass block then you resort to screen passes, misdirection plays, or draw plays. How often did the Pats even attempt to do any of those things. Zippo. Not once, if memory serves.
Those are the ways to counteract a pass rush like New England faced today in Denver.
And I don’t know why? It was a tough game to watch because from the first series. Denver was gunning for Brady as we all knew they would be, and once he got knocked down a few times, he got a little skittish and that was basically the ball game.
I don’t blame Brady and I don’t really blame the offensive line altogether. I fault the game plan by the coaches, and the utter lack of in-game adjustments. All year long we utilized the no huddle offense to our advantage. Didn’t see it today. Our cadence was so routine that Denver looked like they were offsides on some plays when they were just anticipating the snap.
A little trickeration might go a long way to overcome an outclassed offensive line and a non-existent running game, both the result of a long list of injured Patriots this season. We started the year by going undefeated for the first ten games. We limped home from that point, the nadir being a bad game plan against lowly Miami in our last regular season game. Today’s game looked similar in our total lack of offensive imagination and what got us beat in Miami, got us beat today in Denver.
Truthfully, I think Carolina would have beaten the Pats in the Super Bowl. Guess we’ll never know.
It’s a real shame that we made it easier for Denver with a game full of lousy play calling. C’mon Coach, do your job.
When Nick Saban coached Alabama to his third National Championship (Alabama’s 15th), I wrote that we should rename the football stadium: Bryant-Saban Stadium.
Last night, Coach Saban won his fourth National Championship at Bama (in just the last 7 years) with a great win over plucky Clemson, about as worthy an opponent as there can be. Clemson came to win and almost did. Kudos to Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers. Great fans, those Tigers. Kudos also to Coach Saban for that surprise onside kick that changed the momentum of the game in our favor.
It remains my contention that Bryant-Denny Stadium should now be, as was my contention three years ago, renamed Bryant-Saban Stadium.
No disrespect to Dr. George Denny, who presided over Alabama, also known as The Capstone, from 1912-1936, and again from 1941-42. The most prominent structure on the Alabama campus is Denny Chimes with its carillon high above the quadrangle. So Dr. Denny is well remembered, forever and always, and highly honored for his leadership, and it would be no knock on his legacy if we just gave him the Chimes and not the football stadium.
It is always great to be a lifelong fan of the most highly decorated football program of all time. Sixteen National football championships place Alabama at the pinnacle, above the storied programs at Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Michigan, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Nebraska, among others who have garnered multiple national football championships.
The two greatest college football coaches of all time (Paul Bear Bryant and Nick Saban) both coached at the same school, Alabama. Of our 16 National football championships, Bryant and Saban have accounted for ten of them, and Coach Bryant probably deserved a couple more that were taken away back in the day.
For 7 decades, beginning with J.B. Whitworth, I have been a diehard Alabama Crimson Tide fan. And I passed that on to my children and hopefully they will do the same someday.
Coach Saban deserves the honor of having his name on the stadium with Coach Bryant. I don’t know if the Board of Regents or the State Legislature needs to make the decision, but let’s get this going.
Coach Bryant is a legend that remains larger than life and in that sense, I continue to revere his coaching legacy, although it is hard to compare his era to Coach Saban’s. As far as they go they have to be 1 and 2 all time, with all due respect to Knute Rockne and all the coaching greats that have gone before.
It’s time for “Bryant-Saban.”
Bryant-Saban Stadium has a nice ring to it! A perennial National Championship ring.
South African group, Amampondo, was once hailed by National Geographic as “one of the most interesting and experimental groups in South Africa,” according to Wikipedia.
Amampondo formed as a group around 1979 and gained significant popularity. This song, “Nomabongo” was recorded in 1990 and has a mesmerizing quality, in the same way that Bizet’s “Toreador Song” from Carmen pulls you in and spins you around. Adjectives like polymorphic sound are thrown around in describing the music they make. Among their accolades, Amampondo performed for Nelson Mandela on numerous occasions including his 70th birthday concert at Wembley Stadium, and at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Their marimba infused music is a treat to hear. – Harry
Fourteen years ago, my town, Boston, like all cities, small and large, came to a halt. No planes flying, no trucks or trains. We all went home and watched the news all that day and into the night. Then we did it the next day and the next and here we are fourteen years later.
It was the utter silence, in Boston on 9-11, that I remember. A city gone suddenly quiet, no delivery trucks, no cars, no planes, no trains. That silence was broken, periodically, by F-15s, Screaming Eagles with afterburners aglow, making passes over Boston.
Here we are, 14 years later to the day. I don’t think it is ever going to be the same, at least in our lifetime. That was truly a watershed moment.
Of course, we remember those who were lost and we give our thanks to all those brave first and second responders. Thanks to those who serve our country and are always vigilant. Local, State, and Federal. We are mostly a grateful nation.
Truly sad to hear that President Jimmy Carter, now 90, has liver cancer that has spread. He’s had a long life, a good life by almost every possible measure, and I wish the best for him, as I always have.
I met him twice when he was running for President and became a lifelong fan.
Over the years, I’ve had a couple of other chances to shake his hand and talk with him.
Although President Carter was a victim of bad luck regarding the hostage taking in Iran, when the US Embassy was overrun, and the Middle East oil crisis, he was, and is, a truly great person, as his post presidential life these past 35 years has shown; having been the world over, promoting fair, honest elections, primarily in Africa and both Central and South America. But he has also spent significant time wherever freedom needed his assistance. Jimmy’s efforts with Habitat For Humanity show yet another example of a life dedicated to helping others.
All the best to him. – Harry
Hard to believe how the road unwinds isn’t it. After being forced out of Drive By Truckers due to his battle with the bottle, Jason has emerged, clear eyed and strong of voice with his first new record since Southeastern.
Here is my favorite song from the album, “Hudson Commodore.”
Word is, this record debuts as #1 on Billboard‘s rock, country, and folk charts nationwide. Congratulation JI, and wow! – Harry 8-13-15.
Good Ol’ Music: James McMurtry
A couple of new albums were just released this week and I’ve been playing them all week. James McMurtry has been the real deal for a couple of decades. One of the voices of the American West with a lot of Woody Guthrie running in his inkwell.
His songs are filled with blow away lines of what you might call the near absolute truth, such as, “we gather round and hold out hope that at the end of the rope- there’s a little more rope, most times.”
This week came the release of “Complicated Game,” James McMurtry’s 14th album of his interesting recording career that began in 1989. One of his generation’s bedrock of the Americana/Alternative Country genre, James has always had a lot of Kris Kristoffersen in him, and with this record, he leads the way for middle class/ working man/blue collar/roll up your sleeves America that we live in.
There have always been a lot of pretenders in Nashville recording studios rehearsing/rehashing/ and releasing a planet of lightweight stuff that keeps Country Music keeping a lot of our hard earned money. About 90% of what comes out of Nashville is processed waste. About 65% of what comes out of Austin is too. All of them thinking they have something worth our listening to, and dreaming that they are the next big thing.
In contrast, James McMurtry has always been worth listening to and he has never tried to be the next big anything. He is not anonymous by any means, but he isn’t on the country music charts, never has been, never will be. He avoids publicity and is pretty good at it too. Most folks don’t know him, never have heard him, and well this is your wake up call.
Here are a few of my favorite McMurtry songs:
You have to start with his anthem “Choctaw Bingo” which is the best eight minutes you’ll have today if you check it out. On this new record, check out “Forgotton Coast.” and I’d also recommend “The Lights of Cheyenne.” – Harry
1. Fire John Farrell as the club manager.
2. Fire Ben Cherington (club GM) and Bill James.
3. Go out and get multiple frontline starting pitchers.
4. Fire some scouts and talent evaluators and replace them.
5. Hire John Farrell as the club general manager.
6. Retire the song “Sweet Caroline” and never play it at Fenway.
7. Bring Jackie Bradley Jr. up from AAA. Make him your permanent CF.
8. Move Alex De Aza to LF. Move Mookie Betts to RF
9. Bolster the bullpen. Trade Breslow.
10. Platoon Hanley Ramirez / David Ortiz, one being the DH, the other playing 1B. Both start but have Alan Craig in the wings.
11. TRADE: Sandoval, Porcello, and Victorino. Release Mike Napoli.
12. Send Eddy Rodriguez (P) back to AAA for more seasoning.
13. Have Brock Holt play 3B on a daily basis and bat lead off.
14. Hire a new manager, maybe Ozzie Guillen, who is a little feared, a little crazy, and who will bench anyone who isn’t hustling, playing fundamental defensive baseball, making good base running decisions, and can’t successfully drive runners in and/or move them along. Maybe Ozzie, maybe not.
15. Hire me as a team consultant.
This is THE Lotto/Powerball song of all time. Right now, it’s the song I play most often of the nearly 5000 songs that I have digitally downloaded. From her album 12 Stories, here is “Pray to Jesus” by Brandy Clark. Enjoy. – Harry
THOUGHTS ON FOX SPORTS’ TV COVERAGE OF THE US OPEN GOLF TOURNAMENT
There are three golf analysts who unfailingly speak the truth: Johnny Miller, Paul Azinger, and Brandel Chamblee. All have their critics, but no one can deny they say what they think and are quick to point out shortcomings of players, courses, even themselves. To a much lesser degree, Nick Faldo can sometimes be an honest analyst, not consistently as unafraid as Miller, Azinger, and Chamblee are.
Without one of these three, any important golf event is much more vanilla. Knowing what the players are really saying about the course conditions, behind closed doors, is the difference between reality and something less than that.
Fox was pretty terrible compared to the three major networks or ESPN. What Fox thought that Steve Flesch, Tom Weiskopf, or Brad Faxon would bring to the tournament was a huge overexpectation on their part. Greg Norman wasn’t going to make waves and seemed coached to some degree. Weiskopf can be ascerbic, but certainly wasn’t with Fox.
David Duval was surprising in his reticence to speak without a voice in his ear telling him to say the sweet nothings that popped out of his mouth. I know Duval can do a lot better and perhaps he can become the truth teller that Fox needs in order to bring great golf commentary to important events.
I’m no great fan of Joe Buck, nor am I a great detractor either, but suffice to say that from my perspective he was generally pretty good.
Chambers Bay was a beautiful place and a pretty cool layout, but the greens were woeful for a US Open. Brandel Chamblee on the Golf Channel’s air, was forthright in his criticisms. Fox could not bring itself to criticize either the USGA or Mike Davis and both deserved a whole heap of grief for the conditions of the putting surfaces. Mild mannered Ernie Els said, post event, that the greens were mostly just dirt.
JORDAN SPIETH – THE GAME OF GOLF HAS A NEW SUPERSTAR
“He is a walking extension of the traditions of this game.” – Brandel Chamblee, The Golf Channel
Chalk another one up for the good guys. This humble kid, just 21, is in full possession of all the requisite skills to end up in the pantheon of Golf’s greatest players ever. He’ll need to keep up the good work, and I fully expect him to, for the next 15 years or so, to equal and surpass the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Old Tom Morris, and Phil Mickelson; but the sky is the limit for Jordan Spieth.
The Kid, as I will from now on call him, (a not so subtle reference to the baseball legend, Ted Williams, who was known throughout his Hall of Fame professional baseball career as “The Kid.”) turned pro in late 2012. This is his third season on the PGA Tour where he has played in 75 tournaments, made the cut in 62 of them, and has now won four of them, including the first two majors of 2015.
For non golf fans, there are four majors every year, and they are: The Masters Tournament, The United States Open, The British Open which is also referred to as the Open Championship, and the PGA Tournament. That is all there are. Four events that every great player in the world wants to play in and win.
In a time when Tiger Woods’ star seems to be descending, from almost out of nowhere comes this fresh faced, self effacing, young pro who has a star that is ascendance, to say the least. There is only Northern Ireland superstar, Rory McIlroy, as the other young golfer who plays and wins regularly at the Majors. McIlroy is now in possession of four Major titles, at the ripe age of 26. Rory turned pro in 2007 and has won 11 of the 95 PGA tournaments he has played in. Rory is a world golfer and has now played in 151 European Tour events, taking first prize eleven times. Overall, Rory has played in 26 major tournaments and has won four of them.
In my lifetime, Arnold Palmer arrived on the golf scene, taking the reins from Ben Hogan. Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, and most especially Jack Nicklaus, universally given credit as the greatest golfer of all time, came to prominence in the second half of the 20th century. And those great major champions gave way to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. That brings us to Rory McIlroy and to Jordan Spieth, who as a self professed “amateur golf historian” understands better than most what he has accomplished and the historic golf company he is keeping.
In about three weeks, the great golfers of the world will tee it up at St. Andrews, the “Home of Golf,” at The Auld Course, for the 2015 British Open, which is the third of golf’s four majors. Then in August the PGA will be played, this year along the shores of Lake Michigan, at Whistling Straits, in Kohler, Wisconsin. Tiger will be there, Phil Mickelson too, and Rory and Jordan, and all of the best players, each trying to win golf’s next major, and carve their name in golfing history.
Going back a ways, my favorite golfers were Payne Stewart and Paul Azinger. For the past ten years or so, I have exclusively been for Phil Mickelson, now 45 years of age, with his meter running on his chance to win another major or two, before Time erodes his skills.
From this point going forward, I will be rooting equally for Philly Mick and Jordan Spieth, and I promise to telepathically will putts in the cup for both of them. They say nice guys don’t finish first, but whoever thought that one up, doesn’t know a thing about either Phil or The Kid. –
Never has the backbeat of a single snare drum added so much to a single song, but check out “From This Valley” by The Civil Wars. Now apart as a duo, Joy Williams and John Paul White could sure get the job done. The group won four Grammys and lasted for six years, until their breakup in 2014.
“From This Valley” won them their last Grammy, winning in the Country Duo/ Performance category. There are two versions of this song, with this track from the album, Mercyland, featuring various Americana artists. -Harry 6-22-15
J.T. did not write this one, but he sings it lovingly with his trademark reserved energy, making this one of the more memorable tracks on his new album, Before This World, which was released in the past 24 hours. Such a long career and such a consistent one, as well, James sounds pretty much like he has for the past 45, or so, years.
Never rushed or over-excited, “Sweet Baby James“, is still sweet as Southern Iced Tea, but it takes imagination to think of him as young enough to be a baby, now that he is getting on in years. But the music is as good as ever. James Taylor’s first album in quite a while is a good sign. The world may be a troubled place, but solace and peace can be found, as always, in the warmth of James Taylor‘s voice. – Harry 6-17-15
Yeah. Hell yeah. The best movie I’ve seen in a good long while. THE JUDGE. Brilliantly acted, drilled right down with a nearly perfect script. I love good writing. Robert Downey, Jr. was better than I have ever seen him. Vera Farmiga was tender and wise and she nailed it. And then there is Robert Duvall. Son of a Bitch can flat fucking act. He is as close to pure as an actor can be.
I heard that Nicholson turned down the role and, while we all love Jack, I’m most appreciative that he said no, because the role was tailor-made for Robert Duvall. And then there is Mr. Thornton. Ol’ Billy Bob. Everything he does is good and worth savoring. Small town Indiana never looked so good. Let me ask you, can a movie be as bittersweet as can be and also be about as sweet as a piece of homemade pie. This movie is a paean about family and love and loss and grief and it’s a lot about anger and jealousy.
Directed beautifully by David Dobkin, with cinematography by Janusz Kaminski who made great use of light, space, and a handful of drones that slowly rise just to make a point, which is what good film making is essentially about. Well done, gentlemen. And in a cookie cutter age when movies have to be two hours or less, Dobkin and his editors end up with 2 hours and 22 minutes. Thanks for not leaving it on the cutting room floor just to satisfy industry timeframes.
I hope this movie wins awards, for two reasons, first so it will attract a wider audience; and lastly, because it might bring more scripts, more well acted roles, more lovely visuals. THE JUDGE is one of the best movies in the past ten years. Just my opinion, what’s yours? – Harry Lipson, 6-7-15.
Rest in Peace, Jean Ritchie. She was to the dulcimer what Robert Johnson was to the Delta Blues; what Lionel Hampton was to the vibraphone. From her early recordings, made by Alan Lomax, Jean sang the traditional ballads of her Kentucky upbringing. Born in 1922, she died today at the age of 92. Her Appalachian roots led to numerous recordings over a half century of living. She was a seminal figure in the folk revival of the 1960s. Sweet travels, Jean Ritchie.br
TOM BRADY and Deflate-gate MY TAKE
Here is what I think. Tom Brady’s game footballs were, whenever possible, slightly deflated by a a pound or two. This, I believe, from all that I have heard and read, is common throughout much of the NFL.
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Quarterbacks like their balls to have a particular grip and feel, and air pressure is one of the factors in getting a game football to a quarterback’s liking.
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The NFL rule that says footballs must begin the game inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch; a rule that, as far as we know, has never been enforced by the NFL in the six years that it has been in the rule book.
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Is that cheating? Let me ask you, when you drive 40mph in a 35mph zone, are you speeding? That’s what we have here, rules violation wise. Most quarterbacks do it and nobody’s been pulled over and given a ticket. Until Brady.
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What I am upset about is Tom Brady’s reputation. When mid October rolls around and the suspension has been served, the draft picks docked, and the million dollar fine paid by New England, what is left is Tom Brady being forever labeled a cheater and a liar. They can’t take it all back or make it go away.
It’s a relatively minor offense that he committed, and yes, I think he knew about it, and somewhere in the distant past (Brady has been the starting QB since 2001), Tom had a discussion with some equipment guy for the Patriots and the balls were subsequently “attended to.”
The fact that Tom didn’t deflate the balls himself is not the issue. It was done at his behest and he was okay with them diddling with the pigskin. That makes him guilty of the violation, but it does not remotely rise to the level of spousal abuse (Ray Rice and his wife in the elevator). It does not remotely or vaguely rise to the level of pleading guilty to obstruction of justice, as another Baltimore Raven, Ray Lewis, did in 2000, regarding the murder to two men in Atlanta. It does not remotely rise to the level of Richie Incognito, a veteran lineman for the Miami Dolphin who engaged in horrendous hazing of rookie teammate, Jonathan Martin.
Tom is technically guilty of violating a rule has never been enforced and is regularly broken by lots of other teams in the NFL. TB got caught but the price he is paying is far to steep. A man should not lose his reputation for this.
When it’s mid October and this suspension has been served, where does the greatest QB in NFL history go to get his reputation back?
All those kids who wanted to grow up to be like Tom Brady, have a hero with an asterisk, a backstory, a black mark, something parents will long be telling as a cautionary tale. From most accounts, Tom Brady is a guy who basically never takes a shortcut, who has never done drugs, who always does the right thing and is unfailingly polite and humble.
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Had this sting operation not been bungled from start to finish by the NFL and Roger Goodell, the league’s best player would still be just that. Look, I am a diehard New England Patriot fan and a big Tom Brady guy; still I candidly admit Tom Brady’s associative guilt and subsequent foot dragging during the Wells Investigation regarding what is a relatively small infraction that had never once been enforced, that has now morphed into a public flogging of Tom Brady and his legacy, due to the thoughtless and careless way the NFL has handled this somewhat tragic sports story.
“Long John Dean” is one of my favorite rootsy songs.* Willie Watson, with his sparse and sparky banjo frailing just brings great life to “LJD.” For one man and one banjo, Willie Watson is indeed a folksinger, and an interesting voice as well. I hope he keeps his album mixes simplified and not overly produced. Cool banjo riffing.
From Willie Watson’s Folksinger, vol. #1 cd.
* – also you can check out “Lost John Dean“ by Kane, Welch, and Kaplan, here in HarryShot’s songs.
Both of these classic songs were written by Dr. “Tex” Logan, a bluegrass pioneer, who died recently at the age of 87. The New York Times referred to his musicianship as a “hare quick bluegrass fiddler.” He performed for years, off and on, with the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, as well as with Joe Val and the Bluegrass Boys, and Peter Rowan among many others.
“Diamond Joe” is oft covered and has truly become a classic; and the composer of the song is apparently, however, in some doubt. You can read that it was written by Cisco Houston, Woody Guthrie, Tex Logan, etc. I can’t prove it, one way or another, but The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, as well as The New York Times give Tex the writing credit. Dylan, Mellencamp, Jerry Garcia and literally hundreds of others recorded “Diamond Joe,” also known as “Willie’s Diamond Joe.”
Tex, for sure, wrote “Christmas Time’s A Comin’” which is among my favorite of Christmas songs. I have more than a dozen versions on this very computer, which I offer as proof that I love the song, and tonight I recognize it’s creator, Dr. Benjamin “Tex” Logan, who, among other things, earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University. So, here is Emmylou Harris’ version, from her album Light in the Stable.
Rest in Peace, Tex. – Harry, in Boston, on Cinco de Mayo.
It has been a bad few months as far as losing great artists is concerned. We lost Ben E. King today; he of “Stand By Me” fame. It was just days ago that Percy Sledge passed away and John Renbourn died some weeks back. But we are here to praise and eulogize Ben E. for his music which, as they say, will always….
Interestingly, Ben E. was the lead singer for The Drifters for a period of time between 1958-1960. He is singing lead on”There Goes My Baby,” which he co-wrote, “Save the Last Dance For Me,” and “This Magic Moment.” He also had a hit with “Spanish Harlem.” The dude was a genius and a Hall of Famer.
I have a fuzzy recollection of being at a frat party in New Orleans around 1966 and Ben E. King was the entertainment. I have a clearer memory of Chris Kenner‘s band at another New Orleans party around that same time. I have a polaroid of Kenner somewhere that I took. So, the great Ben E. King is now the late, great Ben E. King. He could get it done.
I very well remember 1968; the days after the Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Gunned down on a motel balcony. The ghettos of America erupted and there were riots in every major city in America. The frustration and anger that was all pent up in Black America boiled over.
Baltimore, D.C., Hough in Cleveland, Roxbury and Mattapan in Boston, Watts in L.A., in Indianapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Philadelphia, NYC, and essentially every African American ghetto had uncontrolled rioting.
Watching Baltimore re-live the bitterness, fear, resentment, alienation, and despair is heart rending. The same socio-economic conditions exist. Today gangs are far more prevalent than back 50 years ago. I would be angry too if I lived in those conditions. I’d be protesting and maybe even joining the rioting. I would hate to live in near or actual poverty, without an interesting job, without feeling safe and respected. Our Society has addressed some of these issues but while many may be the beneficiaries in 2015, it is quite clear and obvious that we have failed, as a society, to provide opportunity and hope to a lot of Americans, of all races and religions, all ethnicities. Baltimore may be in for a long hot summer, as the expression would go back in the late 1960s. “A long hot summer.”
We have so much wealth that is concentrated in such a way that the chances of happiness and success are limited for a significant portion of the American population in 2015 America. So tonight on the streets of Baltimore and on the street of Ferguson, there are a lot of voices with a lot of questions, and unfortunately, there are too few answers and no easy, quick fix to a societal problem that truly must be addressed. I can’t help but think of Peter, Paul, and Mary singing “If I Had A Hammer.” The lyrics ring true today just like they did in 1949 when Lee Hays and Pete Seeger wrote it. – Harry on April 29, 2015
Truly one of the greatest of all rock and roll classics. Well, the lead singer, Jack Ely (no relation to Joe Ely) has passed away. But he sure will live on forever as a one hit wonder. And what a hit it was. Rolling Stone Magazine has Louie, Louie as #54 in the Top 500 Songs of All Time. Not too shabby.
So rest in peace Mr. lead singer of The Kingsmen. “Hey, we gotta go.”br>
Well I was wrong. We got swept.
But, however, nevertheless, in spite of this, say what you will, such is the case, Se la vie. And so it goes…
You have to hand it to the Boston Celtics. This team is unselfish. They move the rock. Every night they are busting their butts for each other. The scrappy Celtics seem to listen to their young Coach, Brad Stevens, in his first foray into the pro ranks. If all that weren’t enough, these guys are almost always out-hustling their opponents. Diving for balls. Grabbing rebounds. Stealing basketballs. Making the extra pass. Plus, they seem to check their egos at the door. Those are adjectives that describe a Winner. This team fits that description.
Many teams wear down from the long regular season, Not these kids. The reason for mostly fresh legs is depth. They play a lot of guys every night. The minutes are spaced out between them. Brad Stevens is lucky that his team has so many interchangeable parts, due in fact to their lack of a star on the team. Late in games, the Celtics seem to usually find a way to win. This may all be a big surprise to NBA fans. We kind of sneaked up on everybody. For a team that wasn’t expected to win many games, our record ends up at 40 wins and 42 losses.
In the last 36 games of the regular season, the Celtics were 24-12. That’s almost the last half of the season there.
I think the Celtics will beat the Cleveland Cavs. Not too many people believe that is going to happen. It’s just my opinion, but I think every member of the Boston Celtics team expects to actually win the series. I’m going out on a limb, but I say Boston will beat Cleveland, and advance in the NBA playoffs. LeBron James is going down!
Oh my. Just heard that Percy Sledge, the great Percy Sledge, has passed away. What a voice. Percy Sledge defined soul music and the likes of the Rolling Stones lay credit at his feet for their music. Percy Sledge is right there on Soul Music’s Top Ten Greatest Artists of All Time, along with Otis Redding, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Smokey Robinson among others.
Here is “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” a cover of a song, first written and performed, by Smokey Robinson and the finest version ever recorded of this great tune. Percy had one huge mega hit with “When A Man Loves A Woman.” R.I.P.
I think so highly of John Prine that whenever I run across covers of his music, I take time to listen to them. Most aren’t up to John’s high standard, but occasionally I find something that is worth adding to my personal library. So I came across Amy Black, a friend of Sarah Borges’ and to boot, Amy is from Alabama. Nice coincidence. And she lives in Boston. Another coincidence. Actually she just moved from Boston to Nashville, the home of Americana music.
Here is John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Lonliness.” I can see John and Amy doing duets. Well, we can dream.
Boston’s loss is Nashville’s gain. Good luck, girl.br>
John Renbourn died today, age 70, of a heart attack while at home in the UK. A founder of Pentangle and an amazing guitarist who also had a wonderfully musical voice, Renbourn was an anachronism and an innovator, simultaneously, it seems to me. The American Delta blues also captivated and interested him. So here are two tunes, excellent examples of the talent and the gift of John Renbourn.
“Kokomo Blues” is originally associated with Scrapper Blackwell, circa 1928, but is attributed most of the time to Mississippi Fred McDowell. Following that is Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain.”
My musical tribute to the late, great John Renbourn. –
if you want to buy mp3s or the cd, at Amazon.com, then click THIS
I rank John Hartford up close to the top of my all time favorite artists and acquaintances. So it is great to have Robert Earl Keen cover John’s ” Steam Powered Aeroplane” with the sheer enthusiasm that “Aeroplane‘ deserves as most covers don’t quite get it right enough for my semi-jaded tastes. Well REK delivers as he pretty much always does.
This is a GREAT record and it comes with my finest recommendation. There are 20 tracks in the “deluxe” cd and S.P.A. is only on the deluxe version which was released mid February, 2015. Keep up the good work, Roberto, I know John would approve.
This HarryShots.com Song of the Week is dedicated to the memory of Doug Ashford. – Harry 3-17-15
I just watched President Obama speak, standing in the sunshine next to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a National Civil Rights Landmark. It was, to me, one of the finest and most important speeches of his Presidency; a glorious and proud moment, and a time to reflect on what was, what is, and what is still remains to be done.
I wish that I had been in Selma, fifty years ago, lending my voice for justice, but at the time, in 1965, I was fifteen, not yet old enough to have my drivers license, living in Tuscaloosa, an hour and a half north of Selma, Alabama. I might just as well have been 3000 miles away.
Estimates now say there were only 300 to 500 marchers who attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, on their way from Selma to Montgomery, the Alabama State Capitol, located about fifty miles away. There were three separate attempts made by Dr. King and the marchers (March 7, 9, and 21).
Back in 1965, fifty years ago, there were just three TV channels (ABC, CBS, NBC). No DISH, no FIOS, no Direct TV.
Cable TV had not even been invented yet. Of course, no TIVOs or DVRs. There was 30 minutes of local TV news, followed by 1/2 hour of national TV news to watch each day. In fact, all of the TV networks went off the air around midnight and returned early the next morning. In between you could sit in silence and watch a static test pattern. Everyone my age and older will remember this very well.
Of course, there was no internet. There were no cellphones. No social media. No Twitter. No Facebook. No CNN. No Fox.
It was a different time, looking back one-half a century later. – Harry
HARRY’S RULES OF THE ROAD:
1. DO NOT FRIGHTEN.
2. LIKE WHAT YOU DO FOR WORK.
3. DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK IS TRUE.
4. DON’T GET FOOLED.
5. CLEAN AS CLEAN CAN BE.
6. HONOR EVERYONE WHO COMES IN PEACE.
7. BE KIND AND GRATEFUL.
8. SAFETY FIRST IS MANTRA ONE (the healthier the better).
9. UNDERSTAND HISTORY AND FOLLOW THE NEWS.
10. SLEEP HAPPENS WHEN SLEEP HAPPENS (no alarms).
MORE RULES OF THE ROAD:
1. DON’T GET FAT OR STAY THAT WAY FOREVER.
2. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
3. BELIEVE IN SOMETHING ELSE BESIDES YOURSELF.
4. SPEAK UP. SPEAK OUT. MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
5. DON’T JUST FOLLOW THE LEADER.
6. WHAT YOU THINK MIGHT NOT BE RIGHT.
7. SEE THE NIGHT SKY, SUNRISES, AND SUNSETS.
8. FIND BEAUTY IN FLOWERS AND POWER IN TREES.
9. LOVE YOUR CHILDREN ALL YOUR LIFE.
10. GOOD BBQ AND CORNED BEEF HASH ARE HARD TO BEAT.
MORE GOOD RULES:
1. STOP FOR THE NIGHT AFTER DRIVING ALL DAY.
2. TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR FEET. BUY N.B. 1080s.
3. THE PRIUS IS A DAMN FINE CAR.
4. DON’T SPEND IT ALL. (is your homepage Amazon.com?).
5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BACK.
6. DON’T SMOKE.
7. EASY ON THE MAYONAISSE.
8. JOHN PRINE IS SHAKESPEARE’S COUSIN.
9. IF YOU AIN’T HUNTING FOR FOOD, DON’T BE HUNTING AT ALL.
10. NYLON TRICOT SLEEPWEAR IS A POOR MAN’S SILK PAJAMAS.
Producing a FolkTree concert at Carnegie Hall. The FolkTree Team, circa 1989 (well, part of it, anyway). L-R, Richard “Gidge” Villeaux, Doug Ashford, Kristin Kunhardt, and Harry Lipson.
On the 26th of February, 2015, Doug Ashford (2nd from L) passed away after a quietly courageous battle with cancer. Doug was a friend and colleague, and a fount of musical knowledge. I never knew anyone with a better cd collection. And Doug knew every record, every track. He absorbed the liner notes.
It was music that connected Doug, not just to me, but to a lot of his friends.
With a passion for live music, If there was a good show in the vicinity, you’d probably find him there in the crowd. If there was an interesting festival across The Pond, or in some far flung outpost, you might very well find Doug there, as well. He made these musical pilgrimages to be present when alchemy connected everyone and everything through the incredible power of song.
Intelligent, organized (his event calendar was the best such resource in New England), and kindhearted – are some of the things that come to mind as I remember Doug. When the grieving is over, we will have fond memories of all the good times we shared. – Harry
Amazon.com mp3 download– $0.99
This stirring encore song from the “Love for Levon“ concert/live album recording is a fitting tribute to Levon Helm and his seminal group, The Band. Recorded in East Rutherford, N.J. in October, 2013, performers included: Roger Waters, John Mayer, My Morning jacket, Ray LaMontagne, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Joe Walsh, Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Bruce Hornsby, Grace Potter, John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams, Jakob Dylan, Jorma Kaukonen, Mavis Staples, John Prine, Garth Hudson, Allan Toussaint, David Bromberg, Joan Osborne, Robert Randolph, Marc Cohn, Amy Helm, Larry Campbell, Don Was, Kenny Aronoff, Greg Leisz, The Levon Helm Band.
HIGH HEELS? REALLY?
Tell me that high heels aren’t Big Fashion’s war on feet and ankles.
If it is just image that you are bringing to the party, perhaps vanity is driving Miss Daisy.
Notably, orthopedic surgeons overwhelmingly agree. You aren’t doing yourself any favors, and wearing them indicates that you are a slave to fashion’s demands at the expense of you own comfort.
It is not a secret that some are wearing spiked heels because of height insecurities. Point is, it is quite ok to be whatever height you are. What is the first thing you do when you get home? You kick off the heels. Right?
While they undeniably make you taller, you don’t need them to be perceived in whatever way you want to be seen.
It is time to say no to those stilettos. And men who wear elevator shoes because they want to be a few inches taller than they really are; well, not to blow your cover, but you aren’t fooling many people.
Body image has become such a big deal. Thin, fat, tall, short. We pay a lot of attention and money in pursuit of popularity and self confidence. Psychiatrists couches are filled with worriers.
I’m not a shrink. I am not a fashion plate or a guru offering the latest and greatest, whatever that may be. Note to the liberals out there: Think of all the cows that will be saved if they aren’t bred, raised, and slaughtered for their hides that get strenuously processed to turn them into your next pair of polished leather high heels. Think of the money to be saved. Think of the extra closet space you’ll have by liberating your under-represented toes.
You can be fashionable all you want, but high heels look, to me, like someone is trying too hard. – Harry
As I listen to more music and my mental library expands every year, I, increasingly, tend to like covers of extraordinary songs. Especially when a great voice takes on an equally great song. And it’s even better if it’s a one-shot live performance, with millions watching, and I can think of few better examples than Miley Cyrus taking on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” on the 40th Anniversary of Saturday Night Live.
Miley Cyrus just flat out nails it. Creatively and powerfully delivered, “50 Ways” slows down on the verses, speeds up with contained power on the choruses, and has a vocal range from conversational speech, on one hand, to screams and growls, crescendoing when Miley exhorts her stout band with “Come on boys” as she leads into another chorus.
For what it is worth, I only like Miley’s cover songs and not her own music. It’s probably a generational thing, and maybe it is my loss. If you like Bob Dylan, check out Ms. Cyrus’ version of “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.” – Harry
I am a racing/motorsports aficionado.
Be it Formula One, Indycar, NASCAR. TUDOR United, Rolex, LeMans- I follow them all. I will get up early and I will go to bed late, watching races from Australia, to the streets of Monte Carlo (The Principality), from Motegi, or Abu Dhabi, to the high banks of Talladega.
For more than forty years I been following the men who put the pedal to the metal, and for the past ten years, I have been following Danica Patrick, as well.
In Indycar Danica had a rain-shortened win and three poles.
In NASCAR’s Nationwide, Xfinity series, she earned a pole.
In NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, Danica has one pole (a Daytona 500), but she has neither won, nor finished in the top 3 in any race.
Tomorrow, Danica lines up on the 10th row of the grid, for the 2015 Daytona 500. Like always, it’s a big deal.
I am here to tell you that Danica Patrick is a gutsy driver who gives as good as she gets. She belongs.
Some, however, think otherwise, including some of the very same drivers she rubs fenders with in NASCAR every week.
To make matters worse, Richard Petty, the aging NASCAR legend, doesn’t hide his misogynistic disdain for all things Danica.
On the other hand, the legendary Darrell Waltrip has not been shy in defending her. And DW is, of course, a mensch.
If you go through the history of women who have raced in the upper echelons of motorsports, there are pioneers such as Lyn St. James and Janet Guthrie who paved the way. There were quite a few others, like Denise McCluggage, wo raced over the decades, going all the way back to the 1920s.
These days, Katherine Legge pilots the experimental and semi-competitive DeltaWing in the Tudor United racing series, Jennifer Jo Cobb races in NASCAR’s Truck series, while Susie Wolff is slated to see track time with Williams, in F1, this season.
Still, Danica stands out among them. For one thing, she is photogenic and chooses to market herself, or be exploited (depending on your viewpoint), as an object of desire and attention. She has gotten pretty rich being pretty.
I think that Danica Patrick is among the best “interviews” in all of sports. Answering questions directly and usually unfiltered, you can tell that she is a hard-nosed competitor who wants to win every time she straps in.
There are rumors floating out that Danica will be headed to Formula One in 2016 with Carl Haas’ Racing. If and when she goes, I’ll be cheering her on, as always.
I am extremely sad to hear that David Carr passed away tonight at age 58, dying while at work, shortly after moderating a New York Times podcast. This tragic news comes on the heels of Bob Simon, of CBS, dying when his limo crashed in Manhattan 24 hours ago.
Great losses both. And all this within the same week that Brian Williams is banished, for good reasons, from NBC’s Nightly News and then the announcement that John Stewart, resident genius of the Daily Show, will be walking away later this year, ending an incomparable 17 year run which had an influence beyond easy measurement on our culture and society.
Now more than ever, we, the public, need fearless reporters/newspapermen/TV anchors who aren’t afraid to find the unvarnished Truth and give us informed analysis on politics, politicians, breaking news, as well as the latest information regarding health, energy, business, and technology.
We need intrepid reportage that can be found on battlefields, and in far flung outposts. We need the news, good or bad; determined and explained by those we come to trust in media, in print, on the web, or on TV.
Farewell to Bob and David. So long Brian. Thank you, John.
It has been a terrible week.
-photo of David Carr courtesy of Chester Higgins/The New York Times.