Monday, June 19, 2017

I'd Like To Walk This Path

Painting by Paul Emile Pissarro (1884-1972), son of the French artist Camille Pissarro.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day

My dad with me in 1951 or 1952.  Thank you.

The Missing Red Sox 1st Baseman: 1972-1983

In December 1971 the Boston Red Sox traded 27 year old first baseman George Scott to the Milwaukee Brewers.$_58.JPG
In December 1976 the Boston Red Sox traded part time DH and first baseman Cecil Cooper (who turned 27 two weeks later), to the Milwaukee Brewers for 32 year old George Scott.

Looked at solely from a first baseman to first baseman comparison the trades were a disaster for the Red Sox.  From 1972 through 1983, Brewers first basemen accumulated 52.4 WAR (4.4 average/season) and averaged 136 OPS+ compared to 22.4 WAR (1.9 average/season) and a 106 OPS+ average.  They managed to let the Brewers have Scott during his peak years, getting him back as he entered a speedy decline and trading Cooper just before he emerged as a star.

The deals look even worse when you just look at the years when the Sox had someone other than Carl Yastrzemski as their primary first baseman.  Yaz played first from 1973 through 1976 and while Scott was a bit better with WAR of 17.5 and OPS+ of 133, Yaz was not too far behind with 14.9 WAR and 128 OPS+.

But look at 1972 and 1977-83.  Over those eight seasons, Brewers first baseman accumulated 34.9 WAR and 137 OPS+ compared to 7.5 WAR and 95 OPS+ for the Sox.  Red Sox first basemen in those years (with WAR and OPS+) compared to the Brewers:

1972:  Danny Cater (1.0/85) v George Scott (4.9/124)                
1977:  George Scott (2.4/114) v Cecil Cooper (2.7/113)
1978:  Scott (0.2/83) v Cooper (3.0/133)
1979:  Bob Watson/Yaz/Scott (2.6/110) v Cooper (3.7/133)
1980:  Tony Perez (0.6/108) v Cooper (6.8/155)
1981:  Perez/Dave Stapleton (1.7/100) v Cooper (4.2/151)
1982:  Stapleton (0.6/87) v Cooper (5.6/142)
1983:  Stapleton (-1.6/76) v Cooper (4.0/138)

The first Scott deal looks somewhat better when you evaluate it in totality.  That trade involved nine players but boiled down to Scott for outfielder Tommy Harper and starting pitcher Marty Pattin.  In 1972, Pattin got off to a 1-7 start, then won 16 of his last 22 decisions and becoming a key part of the Sox's pennant run that ultimately fell a half game short of the Detroit Tigers.  Harper had a respectable season but you can argue that the Sox might not feel that bad about the trade as of the end of 1972.  Their real mistake was trading Sparky Lyle for Danny Cater to replace Scott.

In 1973 Pattin became an ineffective pitcher but Harper had an outstanding year playing center field, stealing 54 bases and accumulating 4.7 WAR.  Pattin was gone after the season and Harper never had another good year for the Sox.

The trade that brought Scott back to Boston in December 1976 was a complete disaster.  The Sox gave up Cecil Cooper to get Scott and Bernie Carbo.  Bernie had been with Boston for the '74 and '75 seasons and was traded to the Brewers in June 1976 for Bobby Darwin and Tom Murphy.  Darwin's slash line for the Sox that year was 179/216/349, walking twice and striking out 35 times in 106 at bats, one of the worst batting performances in baseball history.  Murphy, a reliever, had a 6.75 ERA in 16 appearances.

While Cecil Cooper became a star, Scott had one decent year with the Sox, and then a season and a half of rapid decline before being dealt to Kansas City.  He retired after the 1979 season.  Carbo had an okay year in 1977 as a part-time player (2.3 WAR), before falling off rapidly in 1978 and being sold to the Cleveland Indians in mid-season. 


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Four Home Runs

On the morning of Friday, June 17, 1977, the Boston Red Sox were a half-game behind the New York Yankees, and starting a three game series with the New York squad that evening at Fenway Park.  Though the Red Sox had lost the night before to the White Sox, they'd won nine of their last eleven games.

Arriving three hours before the Fenway gates opened, my friends and I joined the line to buy $1.50 bleacher seats.  It was a full house that night with 34,557 in attendance.  Our seats were 10 to 15 rows behind the bullpens in right-center.  It wasn't hot but it was very humid, and pretty unpleasant in the concession area underneath the bleachers.
Fans lined up outside Fenway Park on June 19, 1978, waiting for the sale of bleacher seats to a Red Sox-Yankees game.
 (Standing outside Fenway waiting for bleacher seats for Yankees game to go on sale in 1978, we aren't in the photo but, I regret to say, we probably looked like that; from Boston Globe)

Bill Lee started for the Sox (watching Lee and Luis Tiant pitch was a joy, though Lee was never the same after he hurt his shoulder in a 1976 Sox-Yankees brawl). Mickey Rivers singled and Thurman Munson reached on an error by third baseman Butch Hobson (a common occurrence that year and next) but the Yanks didn't score.

Rick Burleson led off the bottom of the first against Catfish Hunter and lifted a fly ball that barely got over the Green Monster.  Fred Lynn then stroked a line shot into the right field bullpen.  After Rice and Yaz were retired, Carlton Fisk hit a no-doubter way over the Monster.  And then George "Boomer" Scott strode to the plate and hit the one I remember most vividly.  It quickly arced  astonishingly high, seeming to be twice the height of the left field wall, as it majestically floated serenely out into the night.  We went nuts.
(George "Boomer" Scott; the Sox traded him to the Brewers where he had his best years, then got him back just as he was starting his decline, giving up Cecil Cooper who had a string of seven outstanding seasons with the Brewers, photo from ESPN) 

Ken Clay came in the relieve Catfish and induced Bernie Carbo to fly out.  We were up 4-0 and the game looked like a breeze, until Bill Lee gave up three in the top of the second and one more in the third before being replaced by Bob "Steamer" Stanley.

The Sox broke the tie in the fifth when Fred Lynn scored on a ground out by Yaz.  In the seventh Boston added two more on back to back home runs by Yaz and Fisk, going on to win 9-4 and capturing the top spot in the AL East.

Illustrating one of the big changes between the 1977 and 2017 games, Sox closer Bill Campbell pitched the last three innings. 

On Saturday, the Sox won 10-4, hitting another five home runs.  That was the day Billy Martin took Reggie Jackson out of the game because of a perceived lack of hustle leading to a blow up in the dugout between the two.!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/reggie15a-4-web.jpg(from NY Daily News)

The next day was an 11-1 Red Sox romp with the Boston team adding another six homers.  It was part of a ten game span in which the Sox hit a major league record 33 homers.

The games were played in only 2:27, 2:38 and 2:23.  By comparison, game times for the August 2016 series in Fenway between the teams were 3:02, 3:13 and 4:15 (and yes, that last one was only a 9 inning game).

The Sox went on to sweep a four game set against the Orioles, adding another nine homers and increasing their division lead to 4.5 games.  They then lost nine in a row.

Boston closed out the season winning 21 of its final 29 games, finishing 97-64 but it was only good for a second place tie with Baltimore which won 25 of its last 34 games.  The Yankees won 100 games, capped by winning 40 of 50 between August 7 and September 28.

Watching a Red Sox-Yankees game in the Fenway bleachers in those years was quite an experience.  We hated the Yankees with a white hot passion.  It was different than the 90s and 00s Yankees.  We hated that team, not the players (we made an exception for A-Rod); we actually admired Rivera and Jeter, though we'd never admit to the latter .  In the 70s we hated the players as well as the team - Nettles, Munson, Jackson, Rivers, Piniella, Gossage, led by archvillian Billy Martin along with big mouth George Steinbrenner.

I'd been in the bleachers the prior year when batteries were thrown at Mickey Rivers in centerfield.  I couldn't see the idiots who were doing it but the stands quickly flooded with police to get the situation under control.  Fights were always breaking out (we came close to getting involved in one). It didn't help that the bleachers would be full 90 minutes before the game with everyone drinking beer.

One memory, which I think is from the June 17 game, is of Reggie Jackson running out to right field at the start of the game.  Everyone in the bleachers rose and gave him a standing boo.  Reggie stood there looking at us, with his hands on his hips, laughing.  He didn't care about getting booed as long as we were paying attention to him.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dylan Leftovers

The recent post on Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize acceptance speech reminded THC of how songs seemed to flow from him in the 1960s, many of which he did not record at the time.  The remarkable thing about the unrecorded tunes is that most of them were not throwaways and some have become among his most enduring songs. You can enjoy some of them below.

I Shall Be Released

A standard recorded by many.  This is the all-star version performed at the end of The Band's 1975 Last Waltz concert.  Joining The Band are Dylan, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Ronnie Wood, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and Dr John,

They say everything can be replaced
They say every distance is not near
So I remember every face
Of every man who put me here

They say every man needs protection
They say every man must fall
So, I swear I see my reflection
Somewhere inside these walls
Yonder stands a man in this lonely crowd
A man who says he's not to blame
All day long I hear him hollering so loud
Just crying out that he was framed
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

Wheel's On Fire

Co-written with Rick Danko of The Band and one of my favorite Dylan songs.
Wheels on fire/rolling down the road/best notify my next of kin/this wheel shall explode

Love Is Just A Four Letter Word

Recorded by Dylan's former lover, Joan Baez.

Quinn The Eskimo

Recorded by Manfred Mann and released as a single in 1968 reaching #1 in the UK and Top Ten in the U.S.

The Ballad Of Easy Rider

All he wanted/was to be free/ and that's the way/it turned out to be
Co-written with Roger McGuinn of The Byrds and the closing song from the 1969 movie, Easy Rider.  Watching the movie recently I found it unbearably boring and unwatchable.

Tears of Rage

A beautiful song, co-written with Richard Manuel of The Band.

We carried you in our arms
On Independence Day
And now you'd throw us all aside
And put us on our way
Oh, what dear daughter 'neath the sun
Would treat a father so
To wait upon him hand and foot
And always tell him "No?"
Tears of rage, tears of grief
Why am I the one who must be the thief ?
Come to me now, you know
We're so alone
And life is brief.


You Ain't Going Nowhere

Recorded by The Byrds.  Very funny.  Very odd.  Great chorus.

When I Paint My Masterpiece

First recorded by The Band.  This version by Emmylou Harris.

And let's conclude with Elvis Presley singing Dylan's Tomorrow Is A Long Time.


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Origin Of Moral Fiber O'Daniel)

Over the years THC has read speculation about moral dissolution as the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire (false) and other associations of failed morality linked to the course of history.   However, his own research has found the origin of moral fiber to be surprisingly recent.  "Moral fiber" was apparently invented in the early 20th century by the American politician Pappy O'Daniel.

We recently uncovered a transcript and recording of the pivotal moment during an exchange between Vernon T Waldrip and Pappy O'Daniel.
Vernon T. Waldrip: "I can't switch sides in the middle of a campaign. Especially to work for a man who lacks moral fiber."
Pappy O'Daniel: "Moral fiber? Why, you little pasty-face sumbitch. I invented moral fiber! Pappy O'Daniel was displaying rectitude and high-mindedness when that egghead you work for was still messing his drawers!"
You can listen to the recording here


Sunday, June 11, 2017


Mowing the lawn was on Theunis Wessels to-do list, and he's a man focused on completing his tasks.  Wessels, who lives in Three Hills, Alberta, proceeded to start mowing while his wife Cecilia took a nap.  Cecilia was awoken by their 9-year old daughter who was upset after seeing a nearby tornado and watching her dad refuse to come inside.

Cecilia took the photo.  Theunis finished mowing the lawn.  The tornado never came closer and Theunis never felt threatened, assuring his wife and daughter "I was keeping an eye on it."   (Full story)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ranking Beatles Songs

Over at Vulture, Bill Wyman (not the metal detecting amateur archaeologist Bill Wyman) takes us through his personal ranking of all 213 songs by The Beatles, a fundamentally silly but entertaining exercise.  In the process it becomes apparent he does not appear to actually like most Beatles songs.  He particularly undervalues their songs from the post She Loves You and pre-Revolver era, with what I think is a deficient appreciation for the lovely melodies and harmonies of many of those tunes (unfortunately it is very difficult to find original Beatles on YouTube so no links on this post).

Here's the full list.  Have a go at it yourself.

At the bottom end he makes some inexplicably bad choices.  Ranked last at #213 is Good Day Sunshine; not top-flight but far from their worst, though he correctly puts the execrable She's Leaving Home from Sgt Pepper at 204.

I'll Be Back at 189?  Listen to the harmonies.  A gorgeous tune.  The same with No Reply at 173.

And he then has I Don't Want To Spoil The Party and Yes It Is at 176 and 161, respectively.  Both "minor" songs from the 1965 era, but both with beautiful harmonies, melodies and lyrics.

I'm A Loser is 146 on his list, an obvious mistake.  It's one of the Top 50 Beatles songs.

Ranking Tell Me Why at 127 and calling it "a bit . . . eh" illustrates the difference between Wyman's taste and mine.  I love Tell Me Why.  The lyrics are trite but the sheer exuberance of the performance makes for exhilarating listening.  Lennon's vocal is astonishing good and once again, we have great harmonies.

Wyman has the terrible Fool On The Hill at 107, higher than We Can Work It Out (109), another classic by the Fab Four, easily surpassing Fool with lyrics, melody, harmonies and arrangement.

On the flip side, I agree with many of his Top 50 with some exceptions.  The Long And Winding Road (45) is lousy and bloated by Phil Spector's overproduction.  Too bad it was their last single.  And Your Bird Can Sing (33) is not terrible, but not top-notch.  I Saw Her Standing There at 21 and Lovely Rita (19) leave me shaking my head.  Nowhere Man (17) was one of their worst singles.  George Harrison's Something (13) is quite good but doesn't come close to Here Comes The Sun (16) his best effort with the band.

The author ranks the Abbey Road medley as 22 through 29, but that's too easy.  The second side contains brilliant songs like You Never Give Me Your Money, along with miserable pieces like Sun King, and several song fragments.

Here's his Top 10 with my comments.

10. Rain.  Don't know if it's Top 10 but it is an under appreciated song and definitely Top 25.
9.   Eleanor Rigby.  Yes.  And Giles Martin's re imagining the song for the Love album is even better.
8.   Norwegian Wood.  Good but not Top 10.
7.   Here, There and Everywhere.  One of my least favorite Beatles songs.
6.   Dear Prudence.  OK, but not great.
5.   Please Please Me.  Their second single and first #1 in the UK.  It captures the excitement of the early Beatles.  Great tune.
4.   She Loves You.  Nope.
3.   Penny Lane.  Catchy.  Outstanding production and instrumentation. Not Top 10.
2.   Strawberry Fields Forever.  Yes, Yes, Yes.
1.   A Day In The Life.  As a 16-year old I would have said yes but don't feel it's held up well over the years.  As a musical historical artifact it is a milestone but no longer a Beatles Top 10 for me.  

I've never done my own formal ranking but a few years ago put together a playlist with the Beatles songs I most like listening to repeatedly.  It has 52 songs so it's basically my top 25% of their songs.  Here is the list chronologically from earliest to latest (with Wyman's rankings in parens):

Twist & Shout (43)
Please Please Me (5)
I Saw Her Standing There (21)
It Won't Be Long (133)
All I've Got To Do (159)
All My Loving (92)
Tell Me Why (127)
Things We Said Today (73)
I'll Cry Instead (37)
You Can't Do That (53)
I'll Be Back (189)
No Reply (173)
I'll Follow The Sun (122)
I'm A Loser (146)
I Feel Fine (63)
I Don't Want To Spoil The Party (176)
Every Little Thing (198)
What You're Doing (168)
Help! (36)
You're Going To Lose That Girl (57)
Ticket To Ride (18)
The Night Before (77)
Drive My Car (38)
Day Tripper (30)
We Can Work It Out (109)
What Goes On (174)
You Won't See Me (71)
If I Needed Someone (83)
Rain (10)
I'm Only Sleeping (84)
Eleanor Rigby (9)
Tomorrow Never Knows (12)
She Said She Said (11)
Doctor Robert (121)
For No One (34)
Strawberry Fields Forever (2)
With A Little Help From My Friends (86)
Fixing A Hole (150)
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (68)
Hey Bulldog (89)
Blackbird (31)
Back In the USSR (47)
Happiness Is A Warm Gun (110)
Revolution (56)
Long Long Long (147)
Everybody's Got Something To Hide, Except Me & My Monkey (144)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (32)
Here Comes The Sun (16)
Mean Mr Mustard (24)
Polythene Pam (25)
You Never Give Me Your Money (22)
Let It Be (15)

Looking more closely at the list I realize 35 of 52 are from the pre-Sgt Pepper era (1963-66).  

Now that I'm obsessing about Beatles songs, I went back through the entire list and identified those of their songs I do not like and am okay never hearing again.  It totalled 74 tunes, including eleven covers, several singles (Lady Madonna, All You Need Is Love, Nowhere Man, Love Me Do, Yellow Submarine, Hello Goodbye, The Long and Winding Road, and The Ballad of John and Yoko), along with a bunch of Harrison songs (seven, to be exact).  That leaves 139 songs I like and can listen to repeatedly or 65% of everything they recorded.  A pretty good batting average.

Friday, June 9, 2017


I've noticed that Progressives have a way of projecting their fears, yet being the ones to actually act in the way they claim others are always preparing to do.  It reminds me of Tom Wolfe's remark "that the  dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe".

Some recent examples:

During the campaign we were deluged with anxiety about the violence of Trump supporters.  Yet it was Trump rallies that were disrupted, sometimes violently, by Sanders and Clinton supporters.  To my knowledge there were zero incidents in which a Sanders or Clinton rally was disrupted by Trump supporters.

Immediately after the election were were deluged with reports for hate crimes supposedly committed by Trump supporters.  Unfortunately for the left, almost all of these were actually perpetuated by Progressives.  I guess the good news is that the perpetrators were diverse; white males, women, African-Americans, Moslems etc.  It probably got embarrassing for the Left when four African-Americans kidnapped a disabled young white man and beat him while yelling anti-Trump slogans.  I also suspect few on the Left were aware of the incident in Ithaca, NY when a mentally disturbed man murdered someone because he thought his victim was Donald Trump.  You can be assured that if the murder was of someone the deranged individual thought was Hillary Clinton we would have had days of media coverage about it, blaming Trump for creating an atmosphere conducive to violence.

And since the inauguration we have been deluged by fears of Trumpian repression, but so far the only examples are of non-Progressive speakers at college campuses being prevented, sometimes violently, from speaking.

We've also been deluged by other fears of Trumpian repression, now that he is president.  Fat chance of that happening because the permanent bureaucracy is Democratic and the media will be happy to report on anything untoward the moment it happens.  This is in contrast to how it works in a Progressive administration.  President Obama only had to utter a few thoughts about Citizens United and his political enemies and the Internal Revenue Service was on the job denying tax exemptions to opponents of the administration, while the New York Times attempted to convince us nothing unusual was going on.  

The reason for the fears expressed by Progressives it that it is precisely what they would do if they were in power.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Dylan On The Value Of Classic Literature

Bob Dylan just gave his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature which he was awarded recently.  It sounds like Dylan, or at least like the Dylan of his engaging collection of autobiographical tales, Chronicles; Volume I.
When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was. I'm going to try to articulate that to you. And most likely it will go in a roundabout way, but I hope what I say will be worthwhile and purposeful.
With that opening he describes being entranced as a teenager by Buddy Holly.
If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I'd have to start with Buddy Holly. Buddy died when I was about eighteen and he was twenty-two. From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin. I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him. Buddy played the music that I loved – the music I grew up on: country western, rock ‘n' roll, and rhythm and blues. Three separate strands of music that he intertwined and infused into one genre. One brand. And Buddy wrote songs – songs that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses. And he sang great – sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype. Everything I wasn't and wanted to be. I saw him only but once, and that was a few days before he was gone. I had to travel a hundred miles to get to see him play, and I wasn't disappointed.

He was powerful and electrifying and had a commanding presence. I was only six feet away. He was mesmerizing. I watched his face, his hands, the way he tapped his foot, his big black glasses, the eyes behind the glasses, the way he held his guitar, the way he stood, his neat suit. Everything about him. 
He tells of being exposed to Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and the New Lost City Ramblers and thus why, "When I started writing my own songs, the folk lingo was the only vocabulary that I knew, and I used it."

But the bulk of his lecture is about how classic Western literature informed his sensibilities and views of the world.
But I had something else as well. I had principals and sensibilities and an informed view of the world. And I had had that for a while. Learned it all in grammar school. Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, Tale of Two Cities, all the rest – typical grammar school reading that gave you a way of looking at life, an understanding of human nature, and a standard to measure things by. I took all that with me when I started composing lyrics. And the themes from those books worked their way into many of my songs, either knowingly or unintentionally. I wanted to write songs unlike anything anybody ever heard, and these themes were fundamental. 
There were three books in particular that influenced him; Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.

On Moby Dick:
Everything is mixed in. All the myths: the Judeo Christian bible, Hindu myths, British legends, Saint George, Perseus, Hercules – they're all whalers. Greek mythology, the gory business of cutting up a whale. Lots of facts in this book, geographical knowledge, whale oil – good for coronation of royalty – noble families in the whaling industry. Whale oil is used to anoint the kings. History of the whale, phrenology, classical philosophy, pseudo-scientific theories, justification for discrimination – everything thrown in and none of it hardly rational. Highbrow, lowbrow, chasing illusion, chasing death, the great white whale, white as polar bear, white as a white man, the emperor, the nemesis, the embodiment of evil. The demented captain who actually lost his leg years ago trying to attack Moby with a knife.

We see only the surface of things. We can interpret what lies below any way we see fit. Crewmen walk around on deck listening for mermaids, and sharks and vultures follow the ship. Reading skulls and faces like you read a book. Here's a face. I'll put it in front of you. Read it if you can. 

All Quiet on the Western Front:

All Quiet on the Western Front was another book that did. All Quiet on the Western Front is a horror story. This is a book where you lose your childhood, your faith in a meaningful world, and your concern for individuals. You're stuck in a nightmare. Sucked up into a mysterious whirlpool of death and pain. You're defending yourself from elimination. You're being wiped off the face of the map. Once upon a time you were an innocent youth with big dreams about being a concert pianist. Once you loved life and the world, and now you're shooting it to pieces.

All that culture from a thousand years ago, that philosophy, that wisdom – Plato, Aristotle, Socrates – what happened to it?  It should have prevented this. Your thoughts turn homeward. And once again you're a schoolboy walking through the tall poplar trees. 

The Odyssey: 
He's always being warned of things to come. Touching things he's told not to. There's two roads to take, and they're both bad. Both hazardous. On one you could drown and on the other you could starve.

In a lot of ways, some of these same things have happened to you. You too have had drugs dropped into your wine. You too have shared a bed with the wrong woman. You too have been spellbound by magical voices, sweet voices with strange melodies. You too have come so far and have been so far blown back. And you've had close calls as well. You have angered people you should not have. And you too have rambled this country all around. And you've also felt that ill wind, the one that blows you no good.   
And closes by musing on what songwriting is about:
John Donne as well, the poet-priest who lived in the time of Shakespeare, wrote these words, "The Sestos and Abydos of her breasts. Not of two lovers, but two loves, the nests." I don't know what it means, either. But it sounds good. And you want your songs to sound good.

When Odysseus in The Odyssey visits the famed warrior Achilles in the underworld – Achilles, who traded a long life full of peace and contentment for a short one full of honor and glory –  tells Odysseus it was all a mistake. "I just died, that's all." There was no honor. No immortality. And that if he could, he would choose to go back and be a lowly slave to a tenant farmer on Earth rather than be what he is – a king in the land of the dead – that whatever his struggles of life were, they were preferable to being here in this dead place.

That's what songs are too. Our songs are alive in the land of the living. But songs are unlike literature. They're meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare's plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert or on record or however people are listening to songs these days. I return once again to Homer, who says, "Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story." 

He doesn't mention it directly but Dylan is a savvy guy and I think he knew what he was doing with this paean to classic Western literature at a time when it is under assault by the forces of post-modernism and multiculturalism which seek to install a stultifying conformity of thought under the guise of tolerance and diversity.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Heart Of An Athlete

Former Angels star and batting champion Rod Carew is still recovering from a heart and kidney transp(Rod Carew, LA Times)
Konrad Reuland sits on the Ravens bench during an exhibition game against Atlanta.(Konrad Reuland, LA Times)

A moving story from the Los Angeles Times.  In December 2016 29 year old NFL tight end Konrad Reuland died from a ruptured aneurysm.  Three days later 71 year old baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew received Konrad's heart.
“Something in me, I don’t know why, but maybe it’s a mother’s instinct . . . I just laid my right ear on his chest and listened to his heart beating all day, from morning until we had to leave,” Mary said. “I memorized it. And I said, ‘I hope I get to hear this again one day.’ ”

Less than three months later, Mary stood arm-in-arm with her husband, Ralf, and youngest son, 24-year-old Austin, in the backyard of their San Juan Capistrano home, eagerly awaiting the first meeting with the man who received Konrad’s heart and a kidney in a 13-hour operation on Dec. 16.

From a walkway on the side of the house on that sunny Thursday afternoon emerged Rod Carew, the 71-year-old Hall of Fame baseball player, holding the hand of his wife, Rhonda, as he ambled toward the Reulands.

Carew, who survived a massive heart attack in 2015, hugged the Reulands. After some small talk, they moved inside, where Rod, sitting on the family room sectional, handed Mary a stethoscope belonging to Ralf Reuland, a doctor.

Mary placed the device on Carew’s chest and listened for about 15 seconds. Her eyes reddened as her head sank into Carew’s shoulder.

“It was comforting in a way to hear that again, knowing that part of Konrad is still here,” Mary said. “I didn’t know until this happened that every heartbeat, like a fingerprint, is unique. It was definitely Konrad’s heart in there.”

Read the whole story.

Carew was, along with George Brett, the outstanding hitter for average in the American League during the 1970s.  I saw him play in person at a game in Fenway Park on September 3, 1980.  I decided late in the afternoon to go to Fenway to see the game and being on my own and with the Red Sox not the draw they are today (attendance was only 22,340) was able to get a seat close to the field between home plate and the Red Sox dugout and so closely observe the batters.

Mike Torrez started for the Sox and Carew hit a two run line drive homer off him in the first inning.  In his next at bat he lined out to center, and then lined singles to left-center and center.  What I remember is how easy he made it look.  He didn't seem to swing hard, standing there almost casually, waiting for the pitch to reach him, smoothly swinging and hitting the ball hard in each at bat.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground

In 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris and Babe Ruth swatted sixty home runs.  On December 3, 1927 Blind Willie Johnson (1897-1945) recorded Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground at a studio in Dallas, Texas for Columbia Records.

The title comes from a 1792 hymn by an English clergyman.  Johnson's version does not use lyrics and he plays a slide guitar in a style that inspired generations of future musicians.  Dark Was The  Night is one of 27 musical samples chosen for the Golden Record placed on the Voyager space vehicle launched in 1977 and now somewhere in interstellar space.  If Voyager encounters aliens this is what they'll hear.  Wonder what they will think.

Blind Willie recorded 30 songs in five recording sessions between 1927 and 1930 and enjoyed some commercial success.  However, with the advent of the Depression the market for this music collapsed. Jefferson was one of many Negro musicians promoted by the Reverend Gary Davis in the late 50s and early 60s as part of the American folk revival.

Here's another Blind Willie tune, Nobody's Fault But Mine.

I'm Back!

Things are settling down at the new THC HQ so hoping to get back on a relatively frequent posting schedule.