Give a listen: Rhiannon Giddens

It’s been a bit of time passed since I posted a musical spotlight. I came upon the amazing Rhiannon Giddens on NPR. Giddens has a great voice that can take any song she chooses and turn it into a jewel. And she has the talent to take on any genre of music and deliver. Here are five of her deliveries. Enjoy!

Trees on the Mountains.

Woman of Constant Sorrow, by Sxip Shirey featuring Rhiannon Giddens

Leaving Eden by The Carolina Chocolate Drops (with Rhiannon Giddens)

S’iomadh Rid (The Dhith Om / Ciamar A Ni Mi)

I’m On My Way.


The Never Never Land of Teenage Angst

It was another time and another place, America in the early sixties. Teenagers found themselves in a musical wilderness. It was that twilight zone between Rock ‘n’ Roll and Beatlemania. Buddy Holly was dead. Chuck Berry was in jail. Little Richard was working for God. Elvis had been drafted. The music had lost its wildness, its ability to save our teenage souls.

And our rebellion had lost its bite. James Dean died on a motorcycle one dark night, leaving our teenage angst in limbo. Hollywood gave us the Gidgets and fake imitations of James Dean and Marlon Brando. Even Dick Clark failed us by offering up the Bobby Rydells and Fabians.

All we were left with was souped up engines. Cruisin’ Main on Friday nights. Takin’ Betty Sue to the Prom. Getting to first base. And that was about it. It was Happy Days all around. At least, for our parents. But it had no meaning for us. We had lost the soundtrack of our lives.

Then, from out of nowhere, there blasted out of the speakers of our transistors and car radios a sound that melted our hearts. Our teenage heroes had returned in the form of four fellows–Georgie, Abe, Teddy, Jeffy–from our very own Peanut Butter & Jelly High. (How the school came by the name is a whole other story. Let’s just say the School Board couldn’t settle on a President. And what said America better than peanut butter and jelly. It was right up there with Mom and apple pie.}

The four went off to New York City, entered the Brill Building, enlisted the aid of Duncan and Joy, two seventy year old songwriters with the hearts of sixteen year olds. And The Rushmores were born. Suddenly we had a soul again.

Their first number one was a tribute to teenage angst. “I wanna love love love you if I don’t love you I wanna do.” When I heard that coming from the radio in my hot rod lincoln, it was like Dr. Frankenstein had shot electricity through my veins. We’d all been through it. So we knew the guys had walked the walk, and now they were talking the talk. I’d just struck out with Betty Lou, and The Rushmores were commiserating with me.

The Rushmores were not one hit wonders. They had plenty of arrows in their quiver. The next sent us to the dance floor. After hearing “Looney Tuney”, nobody was doing the Twist.

Do the Bugs Shake
Do the Daffy Rattle
And the Porky Roll
It’s on with the show
and the what’s-up-doc
It’s time to do
the that’s-all-folks rock.

The Rushmores had caught a wave and there didn’t seem to be a wipe out coming. They were totally bitchin’ with their tunes.

Now I am sure y’all have heard those nonsensical songs from the fifties like “Yakety Yak,” “Sh-boo,” and “Alley Oop.” Well, The Rushmores number three was “Soda Jerk”:
He’s no clerk
he’s a soda jerk.
Chocolate, strawberry,
vanilla with a cherry,
root beer float
ice cream in a boat.

And their biggest hit, “Her Name Was Sherelle,” was one of those teenage-tragedy weepers like “Last Kiss” or “Tell Laura I Love Her”:
Her name was Sherelle
The Devil gave her his big sale
He played her heartstrings well
Then he took her to a motel
Now she’s go-go-going to hell.

Just as The Rushmores hit the big time, they were drafted. And that ended their musical careers. Last we heard Georgie died in Vietnam, Abe got knifed in a gang fight, Teddy got kicked by a horse, Jeffy OD-ed on heroin.

Now I hardly ever hear The Rushmores on those golden oldies stations. But there are a beaucoup load of fans out here. We remember the days when they looked down from Music Mountain, and we dream what might have been. The four lads from Liverpool would have had some real competition.

We Are the People

Recently I saw John Mellencamp in concert. Man, that was two and a half hours of great music and fun. It reminded me what great songs he’s made and continues to make. So many of his songs remind me of what’s best in America. Others call attention to the challenges we have as Americans.

This Fourth of July, think about what we have in common. No matter how far we’ve got to go to forming that more perfect union, we’ve come a long way. And this particular song reminds me that we are in it together. None of us get off scot free. If we don’t pull together, we’ll be broken. It’s like Ben Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Lately we’ve been hanging separately. And that’s a darn shame. Because We Are The People. And if things are falling apart, it’s our fault.

To celebrate that hanging together thing on this two-hundred-and forty-third Fourth of July Independence Day, here”s John Mellencamp’s “We Are The People”:

Let’s look around us and be thankful for our neighbors. The more different they are from us the better. After all, America has a big heart. Despite what others think of her.

Don’t believe it. Just tell those guys that hit Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944. Don’t believe it. Just tell those folks who Americans fed with the Marshall Plan after World War II. Don’t believe it. Just tell it to all those folks who have benefitted from Peace Corps volunteers, digging wells, teaching children. Don’t believe it. Just ask those Berliners who were cut off from the world in 1948 and 1949.

Look around you and see the beauty of this country and say thank you for all we have as Americans. And remember We Are The People. We’ve got better days ahead of us if we hang together. Otherwise….


Uncle Bardie’s Music Spotlight: Stoplight Kisses

Once upon a time there was two fellers name of Phil and Don. They were something else. They had darn great harmonies. Other artists like The Beatles and The Beach Boys sat at their feet and learned their harmonies from these two masters. If ever there was a group perfect for radio, it was The Everly Brothers. They were mighty pleasing to the ears. Here they are singing Til I Kissed You:

Now I can hear your protests out there. How does the Everlies and their “Til I Kissed You” relate to another song, “Stoplight Kisses“? Just take a listen and you’ll see.

Uncle Bardie’s Thursday Music Spot: Glory

I grew up in another time and another space. A time when a song said so much better what I felt than a speech or a letter or a tv show or a movie. It was the time of Phil Ochs and Peter Paul and Mary, of Nina Simone and Joan Baez, of Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, of Marvin Gaye and James Brown and John Lennon. Just hearing their voices speak the truth in a time when the world seemed to have gone mad with injustice and war was a joy and an affirmation.

These days there are voices like Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino and Guy Clark Jr. and MILCK and Against Me!. But none of them seemed to have reached across society as a whole and become anthems the way “We Shall Overcome” and “Blowin’ in  the Wind” and “Imagine” did”.

I’ve featured Thea Gilmore before. I first gave her my Creative Artist spotlight. Then I gave you her wonderful holiday song, “Sol Invictus,”  and her joyful “Rise.” Well, here’s a new one that I hope can become the anthem we all need. It’s from her 2019  album, Small World Turning. It’s called “Glory.” I can’t think of a better song for an anthem for these times.

Here’s  the lyrics of the song:

Glory to the dying embers
Glory to the TV screens
Glory to the once remembered
Rags and flags and gasoline

Glory to the jukebox heroes
Glory to the botox queens
Glory to the ones and zeroes
Coding kings and libertines

Glory to the plastic ocean
Glory to the modern slave
Glory to the pocket Hitler
Glory to the unmade grave

Glory to the crimes of passion
Glory to the left and right
Glory as the crumbs of fashion
Feed the modern appetite

Amen amen
Bow your head and pray
Welcome to brand new history

Glory to the wheels of power
Glory to the face of war
Glory to the single flower
Held at revolution’s door

Glory to the fallen soldiers
Glory to what made them fall
Glory while the hearts of leaders
See no difference at all

Amen amen
Bow your head and pray
Welcome to brand new history

Glory to the hate and hated
Glory to the loved and lost
Glory to what Greed created
A photofit, a Calvary cross

Glory glory hallelujah
Glory to the threads of fame
Even as the past outgrew ya
You drank its blood and praised its name
You praised its name