Posts Tagged ‘Sam Cooke’

Victorian Easter Cards

Thought for this Easter Sunday I would simply share a few Victorian Easter cards to go with an appropriate musical selection for the day. Much like the Victorian era Christmas cards I’ve shown here before, The Easter greeting cards from that time sometimes had a creepy edge to them or at least some sort of inexplicable sensibility that is lost on modern audiences. Take a look below and see if they make sense to you. 

Maybe next year I will share some strange photos of people dressed as Easter Bunnies posing with kids, like I have done in the past with some unsettling photos of Santas. The odd thing is that most of the creepiest Easter Bunny photos don’t seem that far in the past. A little too creepily recent for my tastes.

For this Sunday morning musical selection I am going with a song that is very on the nose for my devout friends out there. For those of you who do not observe the religious aspects of this day, it still is worth a listen. It is Sam Cooke, after all. It’s Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord) backed up The Soul Stirrers, the gospel group with which he started his illustrious career. 

Sending you Easter Greetings, maybe in the form of a chicks or bunnies wearing Pickelhauben, those old German military helmets. Seems like small animals were more militaristic then than now. Go figure.

Victorian Easter Cards 9Victorian Easter Cards 8Victorian Easter Cards 7Victorian Easter Cards 6Victorian Easter Cards 5Victorian Easter Cards 4Victorian Easter Cards 3Victorian Easter Cards 2

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Charley bought some popcorn
Billy bought a car
Someone almost bought the farm
But they didn’t go that far
Things shut down at midnight
At least around here they do
Cause we all reside down the block
Inside at ….23 Skidoo.

–John Prine, Jesus, The Missing Years


Though I am not what you would call a religious person, I do love good gospel music and am often moved by it. Usually, on Easter, I use the occasion to highlight this powerful music. I’ve highlighted the music of the great Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke‘s incredible work with the Soul Stirrers before he became the pop legend we all now know.

But on this Easter Sunday, as a small homage to the death of John Prine, I thought I’d play his song Jesus, The Missing Years. It’s not gospel but is a beautiful example of his humor and songwriting skills. I am using a live version because the intro to the song makes me chuckle. The song was originally from his 1991 album, The Missing Years, which is a favorite of mine with many memorable songs. I am going to throw another one in at the bottom.

The painting at the top also makes me chuckle and it’s sort of Easter related. I remember painting it about 25 years ago. The color in the sky got away from me and skewed a lot more pink than I liked. It just felt so wrong and when I looked at it all I could see was a pastel Easter egg. It kind of miffed me a bit and I scrawled the title under it that lives with me to this day–Its Easter! So Kiss My Ass.

As I said, I am not a particularly religious guy. I did, however, crop that part out of the image above.

This painting, a small one, never left my studio, of course. But I still like to pull it out once in a while. I have a laugh every time I do and it has actually grown on me. The pink of the sky doesn’t feel like such an egregious violation now. It’s a lovely little piece that I now find soothing when I look past that memory and title.

I wish you a nice Easter Sunday, if that is part of your faith.


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The Deacon’s New Tie- 1995

I have plenty of things to do this morning but somehow ended up spending an hour watching old videos on YouTube trying to find something to share here. However, it didn’t feel like wasted time. I generally find something new for my own edification or something that changes the course of my day in some way. Maybe makes me smile or think.

This morning, I felt like something bluesy/gospelly so I went to one of my favorites Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the godmother of rock and roll whose career spanned big bands to gospel to the blues that shaped rock and roll. Big onstage personality and a unique style with her electric guitar stylings. I thought you can’t go wrong with Sister Rosetta, especially in a live performance from a British rail station in 1964 where she’s rocking her guitar in a heavy coat and high heels belting out Didn’t It Rain on a wet platform.

But then some Louis Jordan, another favorite of mine, popped up on the sidebar. Another huge influence on early rock and roll and, like Sister Rosetta, possessing a big, charismatic personality onstage. I decided on his song Deacon Jones simply because it reminded me of the older piece above, The Deacon’s New Tie,  from my Exiles series from the mid 90’s. Thought they would pair together well.

Then on the side, up comes the Soul Stirrers, the gospel group that started the career of the immortal Sam Cooke, doing a knock’em dead version of I’m a Soldier. Just plain old great stuff.

I couldn’t pick just one so here are all three. Listen to one or two or all of them. Or none. Hey, you got free will working here, folks. But it wouldn’t be the worst way to spend a few minutes so you decide then go have a good day.

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It’s Easter, again. Since I have never had a religion, Christian or otherwise, even as a child, the holiday probably doesn’t hold the same significance for me than it might for many of you. But I do know and enjoy many of the stories and lesson of the religions.

Among them all, the Resurrection is certainly one of the most potent, even if only in symbolic terms. The idea of rebirth and redemption is a powerful concept, one that many of us who have wronged in the past seek in our own lives.

I am hoping for such a resurrection in this country, one that sees us returning to a code of ethics and a rule of law which finds no one above it. One that places what is best for the most of us over what is best for a chosen few and where we seek to help the neediest rather than the most fortunate among us. One that holds those who hide behind lies and falsehoods responsible for their words and actions. One where those who represent us in our government understand their obligation to serve country rather than party or moneyed interests.

Is that too much to ask?

Maybe. But it sures seems that we, as a nation, are at a point where such a restoration of honor and sanity is sorely needed. Hopefully, the findings revealed this past week will set us on the path to such a thing.

Anyway, for this Easter Sunday, I have selected a song that doesn’t really have anything to do with the day. It’s Nobody Knows (The Trouble I’ve Seen) performed by the great Sam Cooke. It’s a different interpretation of the African-American spiritual that came from the slave era and it soars. I am also sharing the magnificent Mahalia Jackson which has a second gear that is truly uplifting. And that fits this day, doesn’t it?

Hope you have a good day.

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Frankie and Johnny is an old American traditional murder ballad. What an odd term, murder ballad. It sounds like it should be American and it certainly has been well adapted here. But it does have roots going back to 17th century Europe. It just came here as part of our immigrant tradition.

Anyway, Frankie and Johnny is one of our best known murder ballads, one with a history that some says goes back to the 1830’s. It tells the story of a woman who is wronged by her philandering man and vents her anger by killing him.

The artist Thomas Hart Benton illustrated the murder scene in a print (at the top of the page) as well as part of his epic American mural located in the Missouri State House in Jefferson City. In the photo below, you can see it just above the doorway.

As a song it has been recorded by several hundred different artists in a wide variety of genres. I was reminded of my favorite version the other day when it came on my dad’s radio when I was visiting him the other day. This version from the great Sam Cooke was one that I listened to incessantly when I was a kid. The lyrics and Cooke’s vocal inflections are engraved in my memory bank. I believe that if I ever suffer from the dementia that affects my dad I would remember this song and Cooke’s take on it.

It is a tremendous version of a great song that builds and builds to a roaring crescendo. Cooke definitely puts his own signature on this song, as he did on just about everything he ever sang. This has stuck in my head for the last few days.

Give a listen. We’ll call today Murder Ballad Friday.


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civil-rights-marchI have been struggling with the prospect of this coming week for some time.  I thought at one point after the election that I would just sit back and just watch the whole thing unfold, maybe give them a chance to prove that my doubts were unfounded.  For a short period of time –actually, several fleeting instances– he-who-shall-not-be-named-here acted almost conciliatory and I thought I might just keep this wait and see attitude.

But in the two months since, he-who-shall-not-be-named-here has shown with his words and actions just what he is and will continue to be. And that is an absolute reflection of our worst self in every possible way.  There is nothing he has done or said that I would advise a child to emulate. Try as I might, I can not come up with a single quality in his shown character that is admirable in any way.  Every aspect of this person is ugly in spirit.  Even his limited acts of charity are done selfishly, done only because it somehow benefits him and is seen as a cost of doing business.

This is not a person who is taking the weight of this nation upon his shoulders so that all in this nation will benefit. He doesn’t care about you or me.  He doesn’t care about coal miners in Kentucky or farmers in Iowa– they were simply a cost of doing business.  No, he’s putting this country on a butcher block in front of him and is trying to figure how to carve off an even larger and juicier portion for himself and his money buddies.

I agree with John Lewis when he says that he-who-shall-not-be-named-here is not a legitimate president and applaud his courage for saying those words.  But John Lewis is a man of courage and a man who has always worked to lift others.  This is a man who has truly worked to change America for the better and who has consistently stood on the right side of history.

And he is seeing a person coming to power who seeks to weaken the rights and freedoms for which he has bled.  A person who is poised to push us on to the wrong side of history, who is willing to trade away the idealism that has long been our strength and foundation for the benefit and self interests of a precious few.

So, on this weekend marking the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday I thought my Sunday morning musical choice should reflect that.  It’s A Change is Gonna Come from the great Sam Cooke, a song that was written by Cooke at the height of the civil rights struggle in response to his arrest in Louisiana after protesting a Holiday Inn‘s refusal to honor his reservations at that hotel.

It’s a great and powerful song with a message that resonates for both then and now.  I am also including the Otis Redding version just because I absolutely love this performance.  Give a real listen and try to have good day.

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GC Myers- Nobody KnowsI’ve been in a pretty deep funk lately.  I wasn’t going to write about this at all though I am sure it seeps into the writing that I do post.  But in the name of transparency I thought I would share a few words on the subject.

I have often experienced down periods (or funks as I call them) throughout my life.  In the recent past they are less frequent and last for a relatively short period of time, mainly due to having built up some knowledge in how to pull out of them.  There is a general disinterest in most things and a dulling of emotions as well as a loss of confidence where I find myself questioning everything I think I know.  I feel tired and listless and anxious to the point that I can’t focus fully on much of anything or get anything done.  For example, writing this blog has been a tremendous chore over the past several weeks.

As I say, I can usually work my way out these within days or a week or so.  That has been the gift that my painting has presented me over the past two decades.  But this recent bout has been  a doozy with a complete collapse of confidence in everything  that I do or  have done.  I felt dead inside and paralyzed in every way, fearful to move in any direction.

This extended to  my work, that one thing with which would  normally  buoy my emotions, to the point that I couldn’t even pick up a brush.  The mere thought of it formed a giant knot in my gut, as if actually painting would provide proof of the doubts and fears that were eating at me.  I kept putting  off working on a couple of commissioned pieces or starting any other new work and worked only in fits on another project that was several months late already.

But slowly I find myself creeping out of the pit.  Small goals and small steps forward.  Yesterday I finally picked up a brush and worked on a couple of very small pieces, such as the one shown at the top.  And much to my surprise, I felt that spark once again, a positive emotion generated.  It just felt good again.

So, I see a light at the end of my tunnel.  And believe me when I say I am running toward this light.

As I said, I wasn’t going to write about this here.  In fact, I still am thinking about deleting the whole thing even now.  But I won’t.  I’ve tried to maintain transparency in how my life translates into my work and this is certainly part of my life.  It might be that bit of darkness that underscores the lightness in my work.

I don’t know but at least I feel like thinking about it once again.  And that is a good thing…

So, for this week’s Sunday morning musical break. let’s listen to one of my all time favorites, Sam Cooke, who I believe could sing any song and make it sound incredible.  I took a shortened title from this song for the piece at the top, calling it Nobody Knows.  Of, course, the song is Cooke’s upbeat version of the  old spiritual Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, which might seem a bit on the nose for today’s entry.  But it feels positive and so do I.  So, give a listen and have a great day.

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GC Myers- Back to the Land smWell, the opening for my Home+Land show at the West End Gallery was Friday evening and went very well– just a perfectly wonderful night with plenty of people and lots of conversation.  It was a pretty large crowd, especially for a summer opening, but it still was one that met my criteria for a good show:  most of the attention was focused on the work on the wall.

I have been to plenty of crowded openings where the work is sometimes an afterthought and all the people there are facing inward in private conversations.  For me, a good show is one that is outward focused, one where the eyes oriented to the wall.  And even though there  was a good number of people, it seemed to me that most were there for the work.

And that really satisfies me in some deep way and for that I would like to thank all of you who took time from your summer schedule to spend a little time to take a look at the work.  I could not be more appreciative.  And thanks to Linda and Jesse once again for hanging the show in a way that seems to bring it all together in the gallery. Again, I could not be more appreciative.

That said, it’s time for a Sunday morning music and this week I felt like something older and mellow and, for me, the voice of the late and great Sam Cooke can often fill that bill.  This is a song he wrote that has been covered by many artists but his version always seems the real thing for me.  It’s from 1962 and has very recognizable backing vocals from Lou Rawls. Here’s Bring It on Home to Me.

PS: The painting at the top is from the show and is 12″ by 24″ canvas piece titled Back to the Land.

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GC Myers- Beyond the Blues smGreat opening night for my show, Into the Common Ground, this past Friday at the Kada Gallery in Erie.  Great crowd with a nice mix of people, old and new to my work.  Good questions and conversations.  Just a very successful show opening all the way around.

Many, many thanks to Kathy, Joe and Morgan at the Kada for making it such a wonderful night and making me feel like a part of the family there. Also, many thanks to everyone who came out and took part.  I can’t tell you how much it is appreciated.  And thanks to the weather for being relatively mild, a sometimes rare thing on the shores of Lake Erie in December.

Thank you!

Well. that being said, it is time for a little Sunday music.  I was thinking Otis Redding and that voice that I could listen to sing almost anything.  It’s hard to believe that in a few days it will 47 years since he was killed in a plane crash in 1967 at the age of 26.  Hard to imagine what might have come from this huge talent.  But he did leave behind an impressive legacy of music, including this great version of the Sam Cooke classic A Change is Gonna ComeIt gives you something to think about on this Sunday morning.

Have a great day.

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Georges Rouault- Crucifixion 1939

Georges Rouault- Crucifixion 1939

I can’t say that I am a religious person, religion never being much of a part of my upbringing.  I never attended a single Easter service and pretty much thought of the day in terms of chocolate Easter bunnies and colored eggs in my youth.  But I respected the traditions and stories of the Bible and of the other religions as I picked them up through the years and understood the solemnity and importance of faith, even if my own was sometimes lacking.  That being said, I thought I might play a little music this morning that had to do with the fact that it is Easter Sunday.

I have always been drawn to and moved by the passion and conviction of the great gospel songs especially when performed by those with the talent and conviction to match the  material, such as  Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and all so many others.  Sam Cooke, one of the greatest  pop and R & B stars of the 50’s and early 60’s, was also a great gospel singer.  I loved his voice and  could listen to him sing the phone book but when he sang the gospel, it was often magic. Here’s his version of Were You There ( When They Crucified My Lord), which is an old plantation spiritual that fits in with the day and,  performed by Sam Cooke is as I said, magic .

Hope you have a great Sunday.


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