Category Archives: Music reviews

On the Louvin Brothers – “spelled S-I-N?”

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Earlier this week – a Tuesday morning heading into Fayetteville for some shopping – I heard a song, “Cash on the Barrelhead.” The song, courtesy of my Sirius bluegrass station,* was by the Louvin Brothers, and I knew them from previous experience. That “brotherly” association brought back some bad memories. As it turns out, I’m way more familiar with another song the Louvin Brothers did, “That word broad-minded is spelled s-i-n.”

Which means that – to the Louvin Brothers – any good Christian has to be narrow minded. But that to me is perversion of the Gospel… 

But anyway, the Brothers recorded their “s-i-n” song in 1952. The lyrics read in part: “I read in my Bible, they shall not enter in. For Jesus will answer, Depart, I never knew you.” Which is a “Christian sentiment” that I’ve always found incongruous, if not ironic. Like when the song’s refrain repeats, over and over, “That word broadminded is spelled s-i-n.”

But just to clear things up, that “depart, I never knew you” quote came from Matthew 7:23. And Matthew Chapter 7 starts off with Jesus saying: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” And Chapter 7 goes on to talk about the narrow and the wide gates, about true and false prophets, and about true and false disciples.

In turn, the sentiment in the “s-i-n” song could be one big reason why – for the first time since the 1930s – fewer than half of Americans belong to a church, mosque or synagogue. That is, because of false disciples either perverting the Gospel or creating God in their own image, not the the other way around. And as far as that “wide gate” goes, I’m thinking the people who enter that wide gate are the ones who turn way too conservative in their theology, especially as they get older. (Which is such an easy trap to fall into.) It’s much more difficult to enter the narrow gate by remaining – even in old age – independent and open-minded, like Moses and Jesus and Paul. (“Oh my!” To which I could add, “Me too!”)

Then there’s John 6:37, where Jesus said, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” And there’s Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” And finally, for your “secular” consideration, there’s 2d Timothy, Chapter 2, which tells of “dealing with false teachers.”

[T]he Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil…

That’s from 2d Timothy, Chapter 2, verses 24-26. And speaking of devil-snares, Ira Louvin certainly had demons of his own to deal with. (But then, who am I to “cast the first stone?”)

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To get back on track, Charlie and Ira – the “Louvins” – were born Loudermilk brothers. “After becoming regulars at the Grand Ole Opry and scoring a string of hit singles in the late 1950s,” those brothers broke up as a duo in 1963. Mainly because Charlie grew tired of “Ira’s addictions and reckless behavior.” Or see the Wikipedia article on Ira:

Ira was notorious for his drinking and short temper. He married four times, his third wife having shot him multiple times in the chest and hand after he allegedly beat her. He died on June 20, 1965 when a drunken driver struck his car in Williamsburg, Missouri. At the time, a warrant for Louvin’s arrest had been issued on a DUI charge.

I first wrote about these brothers in a companion blog, listed in the notes. The gist of that post – from 2014 – was that there was a vast difference between Ira Louvin’s “public and private persona.” (“Do as I say, not as I do.*”) I noted that that difference “could be spelled ‘h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e,’” rather than “s-i-n.” (Then added, “but that would be a bit too snippy for this Blog.”) 

I ended up concluding, “Suffice it to say, Ira was merely human, like the rest of us.”

But then – being broad-minded rather than narrow-minded – I recently changed my tune a bit. I ended up feeling kind of sorry for ol’ Ira, mainly because of the web article, The Bloody Ballad of Charlie and Ira Louvin | PopMatters. It’s a review of the book Satan Is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers, by Charlie Louvin, in association with Benjamin Whitmer.

As children … Charlie and Ira experienced their share of Hell on Earth. Their father, himself the son of a cruel drunk, turned his violence on his sons. Ira, being the oldest son, received the worst of beatings that used feet, fists, switches, pieces of furniture, logs — anything within reach if their father was angry enough — to put him within spitting distance of death’s door at least once.

Then there was the story of the “mutt puppies that resulted from the boys sneaking a bulldog in to breed with a prized bloodhound.” The cruel-drunk father told Charlie to “put them in a sack and brain them against a fence post to kill them.”

Which led to another dark note, of Louvin-Whitmer concluding that “the alcoholism and self-destructiveness that defines Ira seems inevitable, given his grandfather’s drunkenness, his father’s cruelty, and Ira’s mix of insecurity and rebellion.” Which led to another conclusion, that their music – their musical careers – ended up being the Louvin Brothers’ “only ticket out of a life of back-breaking work and abuse.”

Which may be why their music turned out to be so popular; why that music struck a chord with so many people. As the “Satan is real” book review noted, the story of the Louvin Brothers was one of “a mid-century Southern gothic Cain and Abel,” who turned out to be “one of the greatest country duos of all time.” One newspaper called them “the most influential harmony team in the history of country music.” On the other hand, Emmylou Harris said, more succinctly, “there was something scary and washed in the blood about the sound of the Louvin Brothers.”

In short, theirs is a “raw and powerful story of the [country-music] duo that everyone from Dolly Parton to Gram Parsons described as their favorites.” Which reminds me…

A couple Christmas seasons ago, before Covid, I went to a concert at Saint Mark’s UMC – Atlanta, featuring the Trey Clegg Singers. They had a guest singer, whose name I can’t remember. But his performance reminded me of William Warfield singing “Old Man River” at New York City’s Lincoln Center in 1966. (I was 15 at the time.) Each time I remember thinking, “There was a lot of pain that went into making that voice so beautiful.” And so it was with the Louvins.

In the meantime, we all have our own demons to deal with…

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The upper image is courtesy of Making God In Our Image – Image Results. And by the way, the quote is attributed to other people besides Mark Twain. Another note. The ggogle search “making God in our image” got me close to six million results. Also, much of this post was gleaned from a May 2014 post on a companion blog, On broadminded, spelled “s-i-n.” For more detail on the song itself, see Cash on the Barrelhead and The Louvin Brothers – Wikipedia.

Re: “Cash … barrelhead.” That was “on the way into Fayetteville,” Georgia. And it was the Sirius XM bluegrass station.

Re: “Broadminded.” See Louvin Brothers – Broadminded … SongMeanings.

The Van Gogh image is courtesy of Narrow Minded Image – Image Results. In case you can’t see it, the text reads, “It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent.” It came with an article from AZ Quotes, with other Narrow-Minded quotes.

Re: Decrease in church membership. See for example Gallup: Fewer than Half of Americans Belong to a Church.

Re: Whose image? See Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image. (Not the other way around.)

Re: Moses and Jesus and Paul. (“Oh my!”) See Lions and tigers and bears oh my – Idioms by The Free Dictionary.

Re: “Do as I say,” etc. See also Matthew 23:3 “So practice and observe everything they tell you,” on the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time, with the note, “they don’t practice what they preach.”

The St. Mark’s in question is at 781 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta. (Around the corner from the “Sivas Hookah Lounge.”)

Re: 1966 revival of Showboat. See SHOWBOAT LINCOLN CENTER CAST – COOK,BARBARA – 090266118229 | HPB.

The lower image is courtesy of Louvin Brothers Broadminded S-i-n Images – Image Results.

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On “(Some of) the music of my life…”

Short answer? “No, I can’t!” For that matter, “I wouldn’t want to try life without music!”

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As noted in my post from April 4, 2021,* I’m working on a new E-book:

The tentative title is “Turning 70 in 2021 – and still thinking the best is yet to come.” One chapter will be “On the music of my life,” and how important it’s been to me. (Like making those long Camino hikes – illustrated [below] left – more enjoyable, as well as those endless hours of canoe-paddling, [say] on the “Rideau Canal Adventure?”)

So here it is, one post on “(some of) the music of my life.” (And maybe “the importance thereof.”)

For starters, a lot of the music that I listen to – mostly on my iPod Shuffle* – brings back a bundle of memories of good times from long ago. (Very pleasant, like when I’m on one of those “long Camino hikes,” or enduring hours of butt-numbing canoe-paddling, like “on the ‘Rideau Canal Adventure?’”) But sometimes it works out the other way around.

Like the one memory I had from visiting London back in the summer of 1979.* That memory brought to mind a song few people know, “on this side of the pond.”

You can hear the song at George Formby – I’m a wanker – YouTube, with one note from the guy who uploaded it: “Not many people have herd [sic] this song by the old George Formby, so i thought i would upload it.” (To put it delicately, the song concerns a practice which had been described as “heinous,” “deplorable,” and “hideous.” However, “during the 20th century, these taboos generally declined.”)

Anyway, another group I like – and that few people seem to know – is (are?) The Blind Boys of Alabama. Per Wikipedia, it’s an American gospel group, made up of blind Alabama black men. “The group was founded in 1939 in Talladega, Alabama and has featured a changing roster of musicians over its history, the majority of whom are or were visually impaired.” Their song that I like best is Down By the Riverside. You can hear it on YouTube, and you’ll no doubt notice it’s the “real thing.” The soulful version, as opposed to the lily-white, pasty-ass Lawrence Welk version.

Although I will add that ol’ Lawrence and his band kicked ass with his 1960 – or ’61* – song Calcutta. You can hear that instrumental at LAWRENCE WELK – “Calcutta” (1960) – YouTube. (When I listen to it I can just imagine the Lennon Sisters cutely singing “la-la-la-la-la-la” in the background.)

Note too this was “a chart hit, the most successful of Welk’s career.”

So you could say my musical tastes are eclectic. (As in my liking music from a “variety of sources, systems, or styles.”) Which can lead to jarring moments, listening on my iPod Shuffle… Like when I hear Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus – by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra naturally – and that song is followed immediately by the cackling, maniacal opening to Wipe Out.

That’s the 1962 instrumental by The Surfaris. (Hear it on YouTube, and if you keep listening you can hear the “drum cover by Sina.”) Note too that this instrumental is not to be confused with Pipeline, also from 1962, to wit: the “instrumental surf rock song by The Chantays.*

Another instrumental I like is Java, recorded In 1963 by Al Hirt (1922-1999), famed trumpeter and bandleader. “He is best remembered for his million-selling recordings of ‘Java‘ and the accompanying album Honey in the Horn… Hirt’s recording won the Grammy Award for Best Performance by an Orchestra or Instrumentalist with Orchestra in 1964.” You can hear that song at Al Hirt – Java – YouTube; and if you have a pulse at all, it’ll get your toes tapping.

Then there are some songs I used to do on Karaoke, the “interactive entertainment usually offered in clubs and bars, where people sing along to recorded music using a microphone…”

One of my biggest signature songs was You Never Even Called Me By My Name, the 1975 song by David Allan Coe. Not only was it a favorite chorus-singalong at karaoke, it was also popular at “my” family events, like weddings, graduations, and some 50-year-anniversary-get-remarrieds. In the same vein there’s Farewell Party, the 1979 song by Gene Watson. For some reason I found that I could do a great job with the last note (“g-o-o-o-o-o-n-e!”) long and loud. (Loud enough for people to cover their ears.)

In a different vein, I used to do a kick-ass version of John Lennon‘s 1971 song Imagine. (The link is to the original demo version.) From late 2016 to early 2019 – just before the COVID hit – I used to sing that song every once in a while, just to tweak a large part of the audience; mostly old, mostly white and mostly conservative, most nights. (And – need I say it – way too many Trump supporters?) Along with Well Respected Man,* the 1965 song by The Kinks. (“Doing the best things so conservative-leeee…)

And in a way different vein, from time to time I also liked to do Bob Marley‘s tribute to the “black U.S. cavalry regiments, known as ‘Buffalo Soldiers.'” (You know, the ones that “fought in the Indian Wars after 1866?”) Needless to say, in the mostly old, mostly white and mostly conservative audience (most nights), that song usually went over like the proverbial “disagreeable nuisance or source of irritation.”

However – to borrow a phrase from Big Chill, the 1983 film – “The heck with them if they can’t take a joke.” Or, a phrase from Hunter Thompson, that noted iconoclast,*  “Something, anything, to give the Right-wing Whackos a jolt!”

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Photograph showing just the head of a man with a serious expression, aviator sunglasses, a full head of medium-short hair, and a visible collar of a leather jacket

Hunter S. Thompson, the prototypical gonzo Karaoke singer?

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The upper image is courtesy of The Importance Of Music In Our Life Image – Image Results. It comes with an article, The Importance of Music in Our Daily LivesSee also 8 reasons why music is important to us — Mitch de Klein, and Why is music so important? | SiOWfa15: Science in Our World.

Re: The post I did on April 4, 2021. See Revisiting March 2020

The Wikipedia caption to the “Camino hike” photo: “A pilgrim near San Juan de Ortega.”

Re: My iPod Shuffle. That’s the “discontinued digital audio player designed and formerly marketed by Apple Inc.” Unfortunately I had to move on to a variety of the SanDisk Sansa model music player, because – being now defunct – I couldn’t buy a replacement “Shuffle.” And personally I found the iPod Shuffle much easier and better to use. Sometimes, it seems, “progress isn’t really progress.”   

Re: “Visited London back in the summer of 1979.” My lady friend at the time – Janine, who is undoubtedly a grandmother by now – attended Eckerd College, while I worked at the old St. Petersburg Times. She did a semester abroad early 1979; I took three weeks vacation to visit her in London, after which we toured “the Continent” via Eurailpass.

Re: “Wanker” song. See The Winker’s Song (Misprint) – Wikipedia

Re: Welk’s “Calcutta.” From the Wikipedia article: “This article is about the 1960 song performed by Lawrence Welk… An instrumental version by American bandleader and TV host Lawrence Welk on the 1961 Dot Records album Calcutta! was a chart hit…”

Re: “Chart hit.” The link is to Hit song – Wikipedia, with a subsection on “Chart hits,” with two paragraphs on the various charts at issue, such as the Billboard Hot 100: “a single is usually considered a hit when it reaches the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 or the top 75 of the UK Singles Chart and stays there for at least one week.”

Re: The instrumentals “Wipeout” and “Pipeline.” See also Surf music – Wikipedia

Re: The Kinks song “about conservatives.” Hear one version at The Kinks – A Well Respected Man lyrics – YouTube, but that version is way faster than the one I used to sing. I liked to draw it about a bit, and especially the final, “Doing the best things so conservative-leeee…” And add an occasional word of explanation, like “He likes his fags the best (cigarettes)…” 

Re: “Buffalo Soldier.” I just learned the song “did not appear on record until the 1983 posthumous release of Confrontation, when it became one of Marley’s best-known songs.” Marley died in 1981.

Re: “Give the squares a jolt.” The allusion is to Hunter Thompson‘s book on the Hell’s Angels, infra. See How The Hells Angels Became America’s Notorious Black Sheep, at bottom:

By kissing one another the Angels proved that they were way more far out than the people watching them… In Hunter S. Thompson’s book, he explained that when Hells Angels were kissing each other full force on the lips they were doing it for shock value because the act “is a guaranteed square-jolter, and the Angels are gleefully aware of the reaction it gets. The sight of a photographer invariably whips the Angels into a kissing frenzy.”

See also Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (1967). I first bought the book in the early 1970s. I thought it a superb example of what can best be called experiential journalism:

Mother Jones (magazine) recently had a piece about life as a prison guard, one of the very best examples of experiential journalism which I have ever read. The reporter became a prison guard without alerting his employer [the prison] that he was a reporter… They are a shining example of the reporter’s obligation as an experiential journalist to dig deep, to be acutely aware of his or her own psychology and thought processes, and to observe the internal impacts of an external reality which is far from the life ordinarily lived

Emphasis added. See also Experiential Journalism – MR. RESTAD. And just for the record, I thought – and continue to think – that Truman Capote did an equally good job of experiential journalism in his 1966 non-fiction novelIn Cold Blood. Which is pretty much what I try to do with my “ADVENTURES IN OLD AGE” BOOK, and my next book, on “Turning 70 in 2021 – and loving the sh– heck out of it!”

Re: “That noted iconoclast.” See also my March 2015 post, On Pink Floyd and “rigid schooling.” It quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Whoso would be a man, must be a noncomformist, and it’s worth both a re-visit – in a near-future review – and a bit of re-editing.  

The lower image is courtesy of Hunter Thompson – Wikipedia. The caption: “Self-portrait photo of Thompson c. 1960–1967.” Wikipedia said he founded the “gonzo journalism movement. He first rose to prominence with the publication of Hell’s Angels (1967), a book for which he spent a year living and riding with the Hells Angels motorcycle club to write a first-hand account of the lives and experiences of its members.” Gonzo journalism is said to be a “style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story using a first-person narrative.

The word “gonzo” is believed to have been first used in 1970 to describe an article about the Kentucky Derby by Hunter S. Thompson, who popularized the style. It is an energetic first-person participatory writing style in which the author is a protagonist, and it draws its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire…

And finally, for future reference on later post I’ll do on other important music in my life, these early notes I wrote for this post: “1) Roxanne [The Police]. Lousy karaoke song. 2) Devo. Crack that whip. 3) Hanky Panky, reminded me of ‘Sgt. Sjoberg, CAP encampment,’ circa 1966-67.” To clarify, the actual title of the Devo song is Whip It. (See Wikipedia.) The “Hanky panky” song was by Tommy James and the Shondells. At the 1966 or 1967 Civil Air Patrol encampment in Orlando, Sgt. Sjoberg was in charge of my barracks and loved to sing the song, apparently because he had a young-lady friend who was also at the encampment. And “Roxanne” is a lousy karaoke song because of the chorus:

(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light, oh

If only one person is singing the song – as Brie the waitress tried on one karaoke night – all she can sing is “Roxanne” at the end, over and over again. She really needed a partner for the “put on the red light” counterpoint, as that term is defined by Merriam-Webster: the “use of contrast or interplay of elements in a work of art (such as a drama),” or a karaoke song.

On “Johnny YUMA was a rebel…”

Nick Adams The Rebel.JPG



“Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma from the television program The Rebel…”



Wikipedia:  The first episode was set in early 1867, with Johnny “returning to his hometown nearly two years after the end of the war.  His father, Ned Yuma … had been killed by a gang that took control of the town.  Dan Blocker of ‘Bonanza’ fame plays the gang leader… ”

Which is being interpreted:  Who knew?  Hoss as a gang leader?

On that note, consider this from an old Seinfeld:

KRAMER:  You go to Tor Eckman…  He’s a herbalist, a healer…   JERRY:  Eckman?  I thought he was doing time?   KRAMER:  No, no, he’s out.  He got out.  See, the medical establishment, see, they tried to frame him.  It’s all politics.  But he’s a rebel.    JERRY:   A rebel?  No.  Johnny Yuma was a rebel.  Eckman is a nut…

Heart AttackSee Seinfeld Scripts – The Heart Attack.  Which brings up another note:  The only connection between Johnny Yuma and Jerry Seinfeld is that the latter finally gave the former some long-overdue props;  “due respect; proper recognition.”  But that wasn’t the only Seinfeld homage:

In [another] episode of Seinfeld, Kramer absent-mindedly sings the theme on the phone after he’s put on hold.  It might have … been a bit of improv by Michael Richards, an actor old enough to remember when the show starring Nick Adams originally aired.

(See Hell’s Unutterable Lament: Nick Adams was a rebel, which added that the star of the series – Adams – died at the age of 36, in 1968, a mere seven years after the series ended.)

Two points.  One is that true rebels tend to die young.  (Think James Dean.)

The second is that we’re fascinated by rebels, a term defined at least two ways.  One way says a rebel is a person who “refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of his or her country.”  (   The alternate definition – and by far the more popular these days – is of a “person who stands up for their own personal opinions despite what anyone else says.”  See Urban Dictionary, which added:

It’s all about being an individual and refusing to follow a crowd that forces you to think the same way they do even if it means becoming an outcast to society.  True rebels know who they are and do not compromise their individuality…

You may think all this is something new under the sun, or just the province of beatniks and other weirdos.  But consider Ralph Waldo Emerson (at left), and what he said some 174 years ago:  “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist…”   (See also “I pity the fool!”)

But we digress.  (Sort of.)  We were talking about Johnny Yuma, as a rebel who finally got some due recognition from Seinfeld some 35 years after Nick Adams’ TV series ended.   And as noted in Hell’s Unutterable, above:  “It helps that the theme was sung by Johnny Cash, a bonafide music legend…”

(For a “live” performance see Johnny Cash “The Rebel” – YouTube.)

As the lyrics noted,  Johnny Yuma roamed through the west, wandering alone.   He had a dream he’d hold until “his dyin’ breath.”  He would continue on, roaming, searching his soul and gambling with death, ever restless.  He lived by his wits, and his speed handling a sidearm – he was “panther quick and leather tough.”  And finally, the key phrase:  he “figured that he’d been pushed enough.”  (See JOHNNY CASH LYRICS – The Rebel-Johnny Yuma.)

Which brings up protest songs in general.  (They’ve also been around for a long time):

The tradition of protest songs in the United States is a long one that dates back to the 18th century and colonial period, the American Revolutionary War and its aftermath.  In the 19th century topical subjects for protest in song included abolition, slavery, poverty, and the Civil War amongst other subjects.  In the 20th century civil liberties, civil rights, women’s rights, economic injustice, politics and war were among the popular subjects for protest in song.  In the 21st century the long tradition continues…

See Protest songs in the United States.  Which brings up the natural question:  What’s all this protest about?   “What’s all the hubbub, bub?”  Don’t we live in the greatest country in the world?  Shouldn’t we be happy with we have?  Shouldn’t we respect “law and order?”

Well, yeah…  But the problem seems to be that a desire for “law and order” tends to degenerate into a sense of complacence, if not arrogance.  Or maybe it’s just a matter of “getting old…”

Then there’s the fact that some political candidates – for example – “exaggerate or even manufacture a problem with law and order … to generate public support.”  And finally that law and order expression sometimes carries with it “the implication of arbitrary or unnecessary law enforcement, or excessive use of police powers.”

And speaking of arbitrary law enforcement, see The Rebel | Television Obscurities:

Yuma faced down intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.  Despite his rebellious nature, Yuma respected law and order and despised abuse of power.  He stood up for the weak and downtrodden.  He traveled alone and was often forced to work alone because he was the only one willing to stand up to the bad guys. (E.A.)

Which brings up The Establishment.  Remember that?  Also known as The Man?  Either refers to a “dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation.”  And either can also be used to describe oppression, and that seemed to be what Johnny Yuma pledged to face down.

The problem is:  We Baby-boomers who once protested the Establishment – and who so loved The Rebel TV series – are now the major portion of today’s “dominant group or elite.”  And yet – somehow – there’s more than enough intolerance, greed and injustice to go around.

So what happened?  Why are injustice, intolerance and greed still here?

Maybe the problem is that people get lazy when they get older.  Or maybe they just get tired sooner than they used to.  Or maybe – over the years – they lose the drive to correct injustice they had when they were young.  Or maybe they just get afraid to push the envelope.

As John Steinbeck put it, many men his age – he was 58 when he wrote Travels with Charley –  are constantly told to slow down.  And so they “pack their lives in cotton wool, smother their impulses, hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood.”  And since these older men have “retired,” they want more than anything else to maintain the status quo.

And maybe that’s why we need young people, pains-in-the-butt that they can generally be:

Although the character Adams plays, Johnny Yuma, fought for the South, the designation “reb” goes deeper than this.  He is a symbol of rebellious youth – a loner, seeking something to hang his life on, wandering through the [] West of a century ago…  I can find parallels for Johnny Yuma’s search for meaning in the slum kid heading out into the streets of the city, aimlessly walking, seeking, or in young David with his slingshot walking toward Goliath..

See The Rebel | Television Obscurities, emphasis added.  And once upon a time, we aging Baby-boomers felt the same way, when we were the rebellious youth.  See for example “Another brick in the wall,” in which Pink Floyd protested an “out-of-touch education system bent on producing compliant cogs in the societal wheel.”

And now people our age are running the educational system.   (See also irony.)

But in the end, maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.  Maybe you don’t have to lose your dreams when you get older.  And maybe you can even start something totally new under the sun.  Think of Abraham, the original patriarch.  After all, he was “75 years young” when he left the homeland that he’d lived all his life, and set off for parts unknown.

But Abraham – you see – wasn’t an old geezer


File:Molnár Ábrahám kiköltözése 1850.jpg

Abraham, leaving home and showing his “still-youthful vigor…”


The upper image and lead-in caption are courtesy of The Rebel (TV series) – Wikipedia.

The “Seinfeld” image is courtesy of The Heart Attack – WikiSein, the Seinfeld Encyclopedia.

Re: Emerson.  See also Self-Reliance – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re:  “Hubbub, bub?”  See the Falling Hare (Bugs Bunny cartoon) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re: “The Man.”  Interestingly, the American use of that term with that connotation came first in the Southern U.S. states, where it “came to be applied to any man or any group in a position of authority.”  It was only in the 1960’s that “use of this term was expanded to counterculture groups and their battles against authority, such as the Yippies.”

Re: Steinbeck on aging.  See “I pity the fool!”

Re:  “parts unknown.”  The reference is to the Glossary of professional wrestling terms – WikipediaThe phrase is found under “p,” and refers to a “vague, fictional location.  Billing a wrestler as being from ‘Parts Unknown’ (rather than from his real hometown or another actual place) is intended to add to a wrestler’s mystique.”

The lower image is courtesy of Abraham – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption:  “A painting of Abraham’s departure by József Molnár.”


On leaving a legacy

An intense man with close cropped hair and red beard gazes to the left.

Vincent Van Gogh, who left an extensive legacy…


As I approach my 64th summer, the idea of leaving a legacy looms larger and larger.

Don’t get me wrong.  Even though I had to retire early (due to unforeseen circumstances), I’m enjoying the heck out of this not-having-to-go-to-work-every-day.  But I still want to leave something to future generations, even if it’s only some musings in a blog like this.

Your legacy is putting your stamp on the future.  It’s a way to make some meaning of your existence:   “Yes, world of the future, I was here.  Here’s my contribution, here’s why I hope my life mattered.”

See 4 Smart Ways To Leave A Legacy – Forbes, and also Quotes About Legacy – Goodreads, which included these:  “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.  A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”  Or consider this:

Our days are numbered.  One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day.  The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now?  The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.

That was by Bill Graham (1931-1991), the noted “impresario and rock concert promoter,” shown at left in 1974.  Then there are the “I write” quotes from Shannon L. Alder, which include these: “I write because God loves stories,” and “I write because one day I will be gone, but what I believed and felt will live on.”

Then too there are the closing lyrics to It Was A Very Good Year, the 1961 song first recorded by Bob Shane and The Kingston Trio, but later made famous “by Frank Sinatra‘s version in D-minor, which won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male in 1966:”

But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of my years
And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year…

See also It Was a Very Good Year – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and for the audio-visual version, Frank Sinatra – It Was A Very Good Year (with lyrics on screen).

And just as an aside, this July I’ll be traveling to Hoboken, New Jersey.  It’ll mostly be a home-base for day trips to the Big Apple.  But Hoboken is also home to the Sinatra Museum (and/or birthplace), at 417 Monroe Street, and well worth a visit by itself.

But getting back to those closing lyrics…   Note that in 1966 – when he won the Grammy for Good Year – Frank was only 51 years old.  (A mere pup by present-day Baby boomer standards.)  So his saying both that his “days are short” and that he was – in 1966 – “in the autumn of my years” has turned out to be a huge anachronism, 49 years later.

(An anachronisim is among other things, a “chronological inconsistency.”  But see also Better Living Through Chemistry, a phrase originally designed to praise or promote new products like “chemicals and plastics,” but now often used to imply “the sarcastic criticism of the same.”)

So anyway…   To make a long story short, for us in the 64-YOA-and-up range, a better musical allegory might be The Best Is Yet to Come.  As Wikipedia noted, this was “the last song Sinatra sang in public, on February 25, 1995, and the words ‘The Best is Yet to Come‘” are etched on his tombstone.  (Which opens up a whole ‘nuther metaphoric can of worms:)

But we digress…

A vase on a table with about a dozen flowers of varying shades of yellow, tan and beige; a few at the top have darker centers and one on the left is greenGetting back to the theme of this column:  That theme is “on leaving a legacy,” exemplified by Frank Sinatra and – in an earlier age – Vincent Van Gogh.  (Of whom more below.)  In my case, the legacy I’m working on includes these blog-musings, and also my art; paintings in the oil and – more recently – acrylic genres.  (Of which more below.)

That legacy also includes things like pushing the envelope when it comes to the physical adventures still available to me, before I get too old and decrepity.  Adventures like last November’s eight-day primitive-camping canoe trip 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi.  (See On achieving closure and “I pity the fool!”)  And like hiking the Appalachian Trail, though in segments and not “the whole dang thing.”  (Of which more later this spring.)

Which brings up how John Steinbeck approached his “getting up in years.”  In Part Two of Travels with Charley, he noted men his age who – told to slow down –  “pack their lives in cotton wool, smother their impulses, hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood.”  (Men who “trade their violence for a small increase in life span.”)   But that wasn’t his way:

I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage…  If this projected journey should prove too much then it was time to go anyway.  I see too many men delay their exits with a sickly, slow reluctance to leave the stage.  It’s bad theater as well as bad living.

On the other hand I do want to make sure I stick around as long as I can, for reasons including the art legacy that I’ve only recently started getting up to speed on.

I’ve always wanted to paint, but only since retiring have I had the time to figure out the best artistic expression for me, “painting-wise.”  One thing I’ve learned is that – in a way – painting is like raising a kid.  You start out exercising near-total control, but – if you’ve done your job right – in the fullness of time the painting develops a life and character all it’s own.  Eventually you exercise less and less control, and instead watch it “blossom” before your eyes.

But again we digress…  I’ve always admired Vincent van Gogh and his unique style, which you can spot almost-literally a mile away.  And perhaps someday – if I do the job right in the time I have left – I too can leave behind an artistic legacy like his.  (Though I wouldn’t mind making a few shekels for myself in the process.)  Which brings up the fact that Van Gogh left a huge legacy – as noted – even though he died as poor as a church mouse:

In just over a decade he produced more than 2,100 artworks, including 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints…   Van Gogh’s works are among the world’s most expensive paintings ever sold…  [For example,] his Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear was sold privately in the late 1990s for an estimated US $80/$90 million.

Now that’s a legacy!!! guy who left a pretty good legacy…


The upper image is courtesy of Vincent van Gogh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The Wikipedia caption is “Self-Portrait, Spring 1887, Oil on pasteboard.”  The caption from the link provided is:  “An intense man with close cropped hair and red beard gazes to the left.”  Wikipedia further noted:

Van Gogh’s works are among the world’s most expensive paintings ever sold…  Those sold for over US $100 million (today’s equivalent) include Portrait of Dr. Gachet,Portrait of Joseph Roulin, and Irises.   A Wheatfield with Cypresses was sold in 1993 for US $57 million, a spectacularly high price at the time, while his Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear was sold privately in the late 1990s for an estimated US $80/$90 million.

The Bill Graham image is courtesy of Bill Graham (promoter) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The “sunflower” image is courtesy of Vincent van Gogh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption:  “Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, August 1888, Neue Pinakothek, Munich.”

The lower image is courtesy of, vis-a-vis the audio-CD original recording remastered and released in 2008.  For more on Frank Sinatra see the Wikipedia article, and/or (Frank)