Veterans Day

I like Veterans Day, which we are celebrating today.  It is a great holiday – it honors a worthy cause, the veterans (like my dad, uncle, and and papou [grandfather]) who have served our country in the armed forces.  It also has not been commercialized – in fact, quite the opposite; many business have special deals or free items for vets on this day.  Finally, the holiday does not move.  This is a big deal – if it was one of those that if it were moved to a Monday it would likely have a different meaning.  Memorial Day is great, and we do the cemetery thing and all of that, but it is basically a long weekend.

Despite all of this, the first thing I think of when Veterans Day rolls around is the song Penny Lane by the Beatles.  The song was a double-A side along with Strawberry Fields Forever, and this disc is often considered one of if not the best psychedelic singles ever (another great contender is Eight Miles High b/w Why by the Byrds).  Both Beatles tunes are about the atmosphere of their childhoods and include radical musical and lyrical experimentation.  Paul wrote Penny Lane, and the lyrics are very contradictory.  The song takes place in the summer under blue skies, but it is also raining.  There is a girl selling poppies from a tray.  This is a practice that takes place on Remembrance Day, the British equivalent of our holiday, both of which originally commemorated the end of the Great War (WWI), in which my grandfather mentioned above fought.  So in the song, it is summer and Veterans Day at the same time, with rain and sunny skies.  The psychedelic imagery is sealed by the great line “though she feels as if she’s in a play, she is anyway”.  Give it a listen.

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November 11th, 2015 by Fr. Greg

Day 29: Island

Our next assignment in the 40 Days of Blogging exercise is “island” – whatever that word brings to our mind.  I became aware of the notion of a desert island disc (record) years ago when reading one of my many books about the Beatles – there is a long-running BBC program called Desert Island Discs.  The show is true to the title – the guests choose 8 records they would bring if stranded on an island.  I always figured you just picked one, and for me the choice has to be the Beatles White Album (which is technically called The Beatles but no one uses that name for it).  I suppose this is cheating – it is a double album rather than a single.  The reason I choose it is because of the sheer variety of music – thirty songs that hop among and in some cases invent genres of rock music – country, metal, musique concrete, folk, music hall, 70s arena rock (several years before the 70s started), and more.  One of my favorite records is a white vinyl version of the album.  I now have the White Album in a superior mono format (there are minor and major variations between the stereo and mono mixes, and prefer mono to begin with) and after listening to it for well over twenty years it still holds up – I could handle it being my only music when stranded on an island.

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December 15th, 2014 by Fr. Greg

Tarry Wool

I was baffled by what to write about concerning today’s subject: wool.  I decided to see if there were any songs about wool and I came up with exactly one – the traditional Scottish song Tarry Wool.  You can watch and listen to a rendition here.  Lyrics are below:

Tarry wool, oh tarry wool
Tarry wool is ill tae spin
Card it well, oh, card it well
Card it well e’er ye begin

When it’s carded, wove and spun,
Then your work in almost done
But when it’s woven, dressed and cleaned,
It will be clothing for a queen

Up, ye shepherds, dance and skip
O’er the hills and valleys trip
Sing in praise of tarry wool
And of the flock who bears it, too

Poor harmless creatures, without blame
They clothe the back and cram the wame
Keep us warm and hearty, too
Well’s on us, our tarry wool

Hart and hind and fallow deer
Not by half so useful are
From kings to him that holds the plough
All are obliged to tarry wool

Who’d be a king, can any tell
When a shepherd lives so well
Lives so well and pays his due
With honest heart and tarry wool

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December 13th, 2014 by Fr. Greg

Day 20: Trees

I am not going to blog about Christmas trees – ours is not up and hopefully won’t be until close to Christmas time.  Waiting until Christmas Eve or near that time is a good way to appreciate advent and not enter the Christmas season early.  (I guess I am writing about Christmas trees).  In any case, I thought I would share the lyrics to The Trees by Rush from the album Hemispheres.  Neal Peart wrote the lyrics after thinking “what if trees acted like people?”.  You can listen to the song here.  Lyrics are below:

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream ‘Oppression!’
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
‘The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw

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December 5th, 2014 by Fr. Greg

God Bless The Ottoman Empire



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November 22nd, 2014 by Fr. Greg

John Barleycorn Must Die

Fr. Peck has another fun topic for us to blog about – Bread or Beer.  Bread is pretty much non-existent in my life these days, and beer is reserved for drinking during our Tuesday night gigs and the ceremonial beer during a typical Patriots beat-down.  Below is the awesome John Barleycorn, a traditional tune that Steve Winwood started recording for a solo album that turned into a Traffic reunion.  The lyrics contain the British folk story take of barley being raised, harvested and made into alcohol.

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November 19th, 2014 by Fr. Greg

Memory Eternal

This photo came up in my Twitter feed today.  I follow a Twitter account that posts cool pictures from history, and today it posted what is thought to be the last known photo of Bob Marley before he passed away from cancer.  The photo is historically important but also very, very sad.

Marley was a Rastafarian and late in life became a Christian Rasta when he joined the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  Below is the photo.  The “ras” in Rastafari means “head” in Amharic, an Afro-Semitic language, with the connotation of head as leader or ruler.  Saddam Hussein was called, in Iraqi Arabic, the “ra-ees”, which is from the same root.  Most famously the word appears in the Hebrew Rosh Hashanah.  The Jewish New Year is literally “head of the year”.


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December 26th, 2013 by Fr. Greg