Posts Tagged ‘Bette Midler’

There are sensory perceptions that we carry throughout our lives.  It might be a sound, a smell, an image that once brought to mind brings forth the atmosphere and feeling of the time in which they first entered our consciousness.

The smell of a cooking turkey instantly returns me to my childhood and the farmhouse where we lived. It would be Thanksgiving and  I can see Mom’s old formal dining table with the heavy chairs that surrounded it. It’s a long table with all the extending leafs in place and it’s surface is covered with the bounty of Thanksgiving, the mashed potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, stuffing and so on. Just the tiniest whiff of a roasting turkey always — and I mean always–sends me hurtling through time back to that table.

The same is true with certain songs. Take for instance, the song In My Life from the Beatles. Hearing those opening chords always sends me back to same big old farmhouse that played such a big part in my formative years. I can see the old floral wallpaper in the living room and there’s a big console record player with cloth covered speakers on its front and two sliding panels on top that uncover a turntable on one side and the controls for a radio on the other. Those opening chords have me immediately standing in front of that record player with the light from the large windows in that room filtering through Mom’s frilled white cotton curtains. On the wall there was a reproduction of a schlocky painting — I think it was a red covered bridge–printed on thick cardboard that was bought at the Loblaws grocery store.

It’s a good memory. I felt safe in that place, free to imagine places and adventures I hoped for in the future. It was a good place to foster some of the thoughts and observations that direct my paintings to this very day.

That’s my intro for this week’s Sunday morning music. I thought instead of playing the original Beatles version of In My Life which is understandably a favorite of mine, I would opt instead for one from Bette Midler with a beautiful accompaniment on ukelele from uke wizard Jake Shimabukuro. The feeling of his playing on this song works for me as much as the original in bringing back that earlier time and place.

Give a listen, think about some of those sensations that trigger your own memories and have a good Sunday.


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Radio Days

Mylon LP CoverIn the early 1970’s, I was a teenager living out in the country.  At the time FM radio was still not widespread and even if it had been, we didn’t have an FM radio.  The world has changed an awful lot in a relatively short time.  

So it was AM radio for us and in our area WENY was the main source for music of all sorts.  This was before pre-recorded broadcasts and there were still real DJ’s who were on the job, taking requests and making radio patter of the sort that a 13 year old boy might find enjoyable.

I used to listen to a DJ named Paul Lee who also did double duty for WENY on their TV side, hosting a late Saturday night movie as his alter ego, The Undertaker.  The low quality horror flicks were beyond bad.  I think they were public domain films that barely qualified as horror or, for that matter, films.  The Undertaker was best known locally for the skits that came at the beginning of the films, most notably him dancing to Bette Midler‘s version of The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

On the radio, Lee spun the hits of the day and made sophomoric commentary.  He also periodically had contests and I would sometimes call in to try to win.  I never won anything for the longest time but finally one evening, after redialing numerous times to busy signals on the other end, I finally broke through.  I was the winner of a great and grand prize.

25 albums from their collection.

Of course, they were just cleaning out their cupboards, getting rid of all the records they were sent from promoting record companies.  Music that hardly, if ever, got played on air.  But to a 13 year old it was like a stack of gold platters.

mylon back LPMost were pretty mediocre at best but there were some hidden gems.  There was a Delbert McClinton.  There was a Fairport Convention. And there was the one shown above.  It was Mylon LeFevre with his goup, Holy Smoke, shown here from the back of the album cover.  I’ve always loved this picture.  It just captures that period of time.

Now, Mylon was from a well known gospel music family and his work past this was very much in the Christian Rock/ Gospel forum.  At this point, Mylon was living a very rock and roll lifestyle which ended with a heroin addiction before returning to Gospel.  Whatever the case, this album just burned.  I still listen to it from time to time and wonder how he didn’t find fame on a wider basis.  His version of Why You Been Gone So Long, a song covered by many others, is riveting.  The album is just full of passion.  I wish I could find some video of his music at the time to share.  There is newer music of his available but none of it comes close to this.  Good stuff.

Another album I still listen to from that group is the first, self-titled album from David Bromberg.  It’s full of great tracks and has both humor and pathos.  Good stuff, as well.   When I listen to these tracks there’s always a small part of me who is 13 years old once more, looking at the album covers for the first time. Here’s his version of Dehlia.

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