Thursday, August 16, 2018

Chain Of Fools

An alternate take to the version released as the hit single.  Wow.

Never saw Aretha in concert.  Closest was in the mid-90s when we had tickets but she cancelled at the last minute.  No one could touch her at her peak.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

There's Always Something New In Baseball, Part 924

Last night Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey forgot to transfer the ball from his glove to his hand during his pitching motion and was called for a balk.  Bet that has never happened before.

Later in the game, in which the Cleveland Indians routed the Reds 10-3, Reds position player Brandon Dixon was inserted as a pitcher and struck out MVP candidate Jose Ramirez on a 67 mph curveball!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Use Me

Sometimes the THC Memory Bank fails and he loses track of music he enjoyed way back when.  In this case he was reminded when Use Me turned up as the soundtrack for a recent TV commercial.  That is one funky tune, and Bill Withers wrote and sang a series of melodic singles during the 70s, made particularly memorable by his resonant, warm voice.

Withers was a late bloomer on the pop scene, born in Slab Fork, West Virginia, enlisting in the navy out of high school, serving nine years in the navy and beginning his attempts to break into the music scene only in his late 20s.  Even when he had his first hit (Ain't No Sunshine) at the age of 33 in 1971, he initially did not quit his assembly job at Douglas Aircraft Corporation, doubting the ability to sustain a career in music.

Bill quit the music business in 1985, frustrated with the entire scene.  He was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame by Stevie Wonder in 2015.  He celebrated his 80th birthday this past July 4.

Use Me (1972) - This live version is even funkier than the recording.  The bass, drums, and keyboards have such a groove.

Lean On Me (1972)

Just The Two Of Us (1981)

Lovely Day (1977)

Ain't No Sunshine (1971)

Grandma's Hands (1971)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Black Day For The German Army

After Germany's defeat in World War One, that country's nationalists adamantly maintained that the German Army had not been defeated in the field, and the Empire's devastating loss had been caused by a "stab in the back" from treacherous factions in the homeland, led by communists, socialists, and Jews.  The primary military proponent of the stab in the back was former Army General Erich Ludendorff, considered the brains behind General Hindenburg, the army chief of staff, Germany's most powerful military leader.  It also became a constant theme of the new leader of the National Socialist Party, Adolph Hitler.  The real story was much different.

In March 1918, after transferring hundreds of thousands of troops from the Eastern Front where Russia had withdrawn from the war, Germany launched the first of four massive Western Front offensive designed to defeat Britain and France before fresh American soldiers began flooding into France.  Those assaults resulted in advances, but ultimately failed and, in the process, caused enormous casualties among German troops, and exhausting and damaging the morale of the survivors (for more background read The Kaiserschlacht).

Sensing that the tide had turned, late July saw the Allies agree on launching a series of coordinated offensives designed to decisively evict German armies from France.  The first of these offenses occurred around the city of Amiens beginning on August 8, 1918.  The innovative attack plan, which involved masses of new available tanks and doing away with the normal lengthy pre-attack bombardment met with immediate success, as British, Canadian, and Australian forces gained seven miles in the first day, a shockingly large advance after the stagnant fronts of the prior four years.  It was the beginning of what became known as the Hundred Days Offensive which finally ending the four years of bloodletting.

More alarming to the German command than the ground lost were reports of their troops retreating without making strong resistance, and the taunting of reinforcements as they moved to the front.  Ludendorff referred to it as "the black day for the German army".  It shattered Ludendorff's confidence and from that time he was convinced that Germany could not win the war.

At an Imperial Conference on August 14, Ludendorff for the first time took up the position that victory by arms was impossible, and therefore peace by understanding was necessary.  The military situation worsened over the next six weeks, finally prompting a panicked note from Ludendorff to the military liaison to the government asking to transmit to the Imperial Chancellor his "urgent request that our peace proposals should be issued at once. To-day the troops are holding their own: what may happen to-morrow cannot be foreseen."   This was followed later in the day by a further communication from Ludendorff containing "his urgent request to issue the peace proposal at once, and not to hold it back until the formation of the new Government, which might be delayed."

The civilian government however hesitated to take Ludendorff's advice until, on October 3, General Hindenburg reiterated Ludendorff’s message, stating that “The German army still stands firm and is defending itself against all attacks. The situation, however, is growing more critical daily, and may force the High Command to momentous decisions. In these circumstances it is imperative to stop the fighting in order to spare the German people and their allies unnecessary sacrifices. Every day of delay costs thousands of brave soldiers their lives.

It was only then that Germany's civilian government stated publicly its willingness to engage in peace negotiations based on President Wilson's Fourteen Points.  It was the military, not civilians, which prompted the actions leading to Germany's agreement to an armistice on November 11, 1918.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Solsbury Hill

Peter Gabriel's first single (1977) after leaving Genesis.  Solsbury Hill is a 625 foot high summit near Bath, in England's West Country.  It's one of the possible sites of the Battle of Badon, which likely took place in 490 AD, a victory for the British against the Anglo Saxon invaders, stalling their westward advance for almost a century, a battle also associated with the legend of King Arthur.

What will you do when your eagle flies out of the night?
Climbing up on Solsbury Hill
I could see the city light
Wind was blowing, time stood still
Eagle flew out of the night
He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing, stretching every nerve
Had to listen, had no choice
I did not believe the information
Just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom, boom, boom
"Son", he said, "grab your things, I've come to take you home"