Monday, June 20, 2011

Daddy's girl

This is a belated Father's Day post.  I've been thinking about a lot of songs lately to do with fathers.  Most of the ones I know are silly or sappy or just not very good.  But I did remember these two which actually are among my faves!

My father was not perfect by any means, but he did his best and he was there for his daughters.  Knowing we were loved gave us the confidence to make good choices out in the world.  The best choice I made was in choosing my husband.  I knew he would make a wonderful father and I was so right!

I have never been a big fan of country music (although there are a lot of songs I do enjoy) but when I heard this one several years ago at a friend's house -- I had to buy the album! 

I Think About You / Collin Raye

This next song has haunted me for years.  The Kinks really suit their name.  They are such a strange blend of black humour and earnestness.  This song seems creepy at first, then almost a parody, but by the end you realize it is sincere and heartbreaking.

Art Lover / The Kinks

This is an excerpt from Creem Online : The Kinks -- Ray Davies Unravels The Kinks (Dec. 1981)
an interview by Bill Holdship

Let's talk about "Art Lover". That song is ambiguous in the same way that "Lola" was. At first, it sounds like it might be about some sort of pervert, but I think there's a lot more going on there.

I had great trouble when I first ran through that song in the studio with the guys. I gave them a chord sheet, and they were really pissed off by this time because we'd already done something like 15 tracks. They said, "Oh fuck. He's not going to do another track!" And I said, "Just play the chords." I looked at their faces when we did the playback. First of all, they were just worried about what they were playing. The second playback, they listened to the words, and they looked like "What the fuck's he writing about?" I originally had put in a line that said something like "Sunday parents with their kids knowing they're just alone" which made it, obvious that it was about someone who was divorced and only had his kid on a Sunday. So I left it out because I wanted to leave the song ambiguous. I think ambiguity is a good tool, a good weapon I used it in songs like "Waterloo Sunset". And I think it just about works because it says "I'm not a flasher in a raincoat." One of the reasons they're not putting it out as a single in England is because the BBC has said there's a flasher in a raincoat, but it says "I'm not a flasher." So it does sound like a pervert to begin with, but I think it does work in the end and you realize what the song's about.

It's a good song. It's a sad song. And I'd love it to be a single. I wouldn't care if it bombed and died a death because I believe in that song so much.

There seems to be some of your old themes or images in the song. Sunny afternoon, children, a river...

But it's part of my life. I do go jogging in Regent's Park. When I'm in New York, I go in Central Park. Running is an important part of my life. In fact, I think running has saved my life. I've been laid-up twice on this tour, and had to have injections to go onstage because my voice is completely gone and everything. The doctor examining me said the only good thing about me is my heart; I have an athlete's heart. It saves me. So I do go running in the park, and I do see these things. I do see little people feeding the ducks. And on Sunday it's different because you can see these sad people trying for one day to make it a special event for their kids. And the kids are bored because they know the parents are putting on an act. I think that's the saddest thing in the world.

ELLIOT ABBOT: It's a rough song for parents.

RAY: It's a rough song for anybody. It's a rough song for ducks.

 Here is a fictional Dad who has been estranged from his child, through marital
and wartime strife.

 Richard Armitage as John Porter greeting his daughter in Strike Back

Friday, June 17, 2011

Warm fuzzies

So many people have had bad things happen to them, and when I hear these things I feel the need to comfort them in some way, but it is difficult to know what to say.  I know for myself, if I am having a bad day, it helps to talk about it, so venting on a blog is another useful tool when there is no one else around to talk to.  If one of my blogger friends has had something rather traumatic happen to them, and I haven't commented, it isn't that I haven't been thinking about them, but somehow what I want to say just doesn't seem ... profound or useful in any way.  What I would really like to do is give them a big, warm hug!  But when far away, or when words are not enough, in my family we have developed a code word that says it all.  Before I tell you that word, let me precede that with the background story.

I may have said this somewhere before, but I am known for being very emotional -- I just can't keep it in, whatever the emotion I am feeling.  Usually it is laughter (I am very lucky!), but sometimes it is sadness, and believe me I can cry at the drop of a hat.  Well, not literally of course, what's so sad about dropping a hat, after all?... but I digress.  Even a commercial can make me sappy!  So when I watch a sad movie, there had better be a lot of kleenex handy! (I know I should say tissues ... oh, nevermind!)

So... when we were newlyweds, my husband, not being used to my waterworks, would get very upset when I started bawling during a movie.  He would get up and start pacing and start asking me silly questions or something.  I can't remember exactly what it was he would do, but it would usually end up with him being upset with me and me crying harder!   Finally, after this happened a few times, I explained to him that actually I was enjoying the movie, and the fact that I was crying didn't mean there was anything wrong with me.  If he wanted to help, he could put his arm around me or just hand me the kleenex box!  Well, after a while it got so he thought I was pretty funny, and he would end up tossing the kleenex box at me with a smirk on his face!  Well, at least we understood each other! :)

by ~the-jc-monster

A few years later, when we had children, I would read them a bedtime story and since we were very fond of Dr. Seuss, often it was his ABC book.  At the end of that book was a very strange creature called The Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz.  I guess this imaginary critter can be very scary to young children especially just before going to sleep, so there was a lot of discussion about this drawing.  I remember trying to make it seem more friendly, so I said something like, it would scare away bad dreams with a magic word which was "Zah-Zuzz!"  This explanation seemed to satisfy them.  Then the word became useful to show sympathy to someone. "Aww! Does your boo-boo hurt? Zah-Zuzz!", said in a comforting voice.

Fast forward a few years and there's me with my husband again.  I was telling him my problems, after a bad day at work (or something).  There he goes getting all upset again, and giving me all kinds of unnecessary advice, that just ended up making me feel annoyed and then pretty soon we'd be arguing!  So I figured out I should tell him, it was okay really, that I just needed to vent, and he didn't have to feel like he had to solve my problems.  Perhaps I just needed a "Zah-Zuzz"? So he filed that piece of information away.  Then the next time I started ranting about my work issues, when I was finally done and took a breath, my husband looked at me with a very sad and forlorn look and said, "Awww! Zah-Zuzz".  Well, it just broke me up and I started laughing so hard, and so did he and suddenly it was the best day ever!

So here's to everyone out there who is going through some bad times... I can't really help you, but I hear you and I do care, so here you go....

This song isn't exactly what I was talking about, but the silly lyrics themselves and the upbeat rhythm might cheer up someone with the blues.
 Zaz Zuh Zaz / Cab Calloway

This is one of my favourite songs that never fails to make me feel better.  The Kinks are always a lot of fun and even when serious they are still very upbeat.

Dr. Seuss has a lot a good sayings that could possibly make someone feel better.  They don't call him "Dr." for nothing!  Here are a few I like:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”

Well, nothing makes a Richard Armitage fan feel better than ogling another picture of the wonderful man himself.  A little "Armitage Therapy" anyone? 

Here is Dr. Alec Track from The Golden Hour to the rescue.

What's that?  A phone call for me?

You're hurt? I'll be right there!

I'm on my way!

Now let's have a look here!

Well, it's just what I thought.... the worst case of Armitagemania I've ever seen!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

All Wet

Spring River by Tom Thompson.
Living in an area that has almost more lakes than dry land, water is very important to me.  I wouldn't want to live too far away from a lake or at least some large natural body of water.  

June 8th is Oceans Day and June 12th is Canadian Rivers Day, so the week of June 8th to June 12th is called Rivers to Ocean Week.   The Canadian Wildlife Federation reminds us that we can all help to protect our shared water resources by reducing our waste, participating in a beach clean up, using less water and choosing tap water over bottled water.  There are thousands of little things we can do to help. For more ideas, please click here to visit the CWF website.
World Water Day happened to be on my birthday this year.  I had a lovely experience on that day as I spent it on holiday in Hawaii.  We took a boat cruise down the coast of the Big Island and I was treated to my first sighting of a pod of Spinner Dolphins! They surrounded our boat and performed  jumping and spinning games for us.

 How about some classical water music?  Handel composed this music at the request of King George I to be performed outside as he floated down the Thames River on his royal barge.  No wonder it sounds so regal!

Handel / Water music

Memory, hither come,
And tune your merry notes:
And, while upon the wind
Your music floats,
I’ll pore upon the stream
Where sighing lovers dream,
And fish for fancies as they pass
Within the watery glass.

William Blake

Here are some of my favourite modern tunes about rivers...

John Hiatt / The River Knows Your Name

Some stills from a scene in Chris Ryan's Strike Back, (episode 2 in Zimbabwe), screencaps from Richard Armitage Central Gallery.

A leap of faith!

On the riverbank

Bruce Springsteen is one of my all time favourite Rock singer / songwriters.  His lyrics are usually about people trying to escape from their lack-lustre lives.  The following song is from his "Darkness at the Edge of Town" album.

Bruce Springsteen / The River

The following pictures are from an episode of the George Gently series.  Richard Armitage plays a character named Ricky Deeming who initiates new members to his motorcycle club by baptizing them in the ocean.

Alison Krauss / Down to the River to Pray

From the soundtrack to the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?

I stayed up way too late one night recently to rewatch a favourite movie that I hadn't seen in a long time.  The Prince of Tides has a water theme as it takes place on the tidal flats of South Carolina. One of my favourite scenes involves the children jumping into the water holding hands, as a way to escape their troubled home life.  It was based on a book by Pat Conroy which I also read a few years before I saw the movie version.  The book is a masterpiece, and usually it is difficult to adapt such a rich, and multi-layered story to a two hour movie version.  But as the author wrote the screenplay, he managed to pull it off.  There were many vital scenes missing but what was left still managed to convey the same sense of the storyline and vivid beauty of place. I enjoyed the actors too.  Barbara Streisand was the director, but her role as the psychiatrist didn't overshadow the other fine actors. Nick Nolte gave one of his finest performances ever here, and I was very happy to see Blythe Danner as the wife.  She is a beautiful, graceful woman with a soft, sultry voice who has played before in film adaptations of Pat Conroy's books, most notably in The Great Santini. Also I would be remiss in not mentioning Kate Nelligan in a standout performance as the unstable matriarch of the family.
If you wish to watch the trailer for this movie, please visit here.

Here is a tribute to the movie showing some beautiful scenery.

 Richard Armitage has admitted to an aversion to "dark water".  It seems that he must be pushing himself to confront this fear as the previous pictures can attest.  In series 8 of Spooks / MI-5 his character of Lucas North is subjected to waterboarding (a type of torture which simulates drowning).  The following music video by JulietD100 brilliantly explores Lucas's experience with water.

Fanvid by JulietD100 / *spooks* Lucas North 'The Water'
Hurt / The Water

How terrible that such a life-giving resource could be used for torture.  I hate to end on such a sad note.

"We call upon the waters that rim the earth, horizon to horizon,
that flow in our rivers and streams, that fall upon our gardens
and fields, and we ask that they:
Teach us, and show us the way."

American Indian, Chinook Blessing Litany, 
Earth Prayers from Around the World, 1991

I can't resist one last look...

Richard Armitage is all wet in Robin Hood BBC

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Train of thought

 I can't seem to leave this theme of trains alone.  Here are some of my favourite artists singing songs about trains.  I actually hadn't heard the first three songs before (I came upon them serendipitously) but they are fast becoming new/old favourites.

Neil Young / Boxcar

Remember this guy?  I posted about him just recently.

Murray McLauchlan / Never Did Like That Train

April Wine / Fast Train

This isn't my favourite April Wine song, by any means, but the video has some excellent visuals so I had to include it.

You know I had to include a Gordon Lightfoot song... Although this one only makes passing mention of the train.  The singer is on the train, escaping to the northland from a romance gone wrong. I have already included his other train songs in previous blog posts.  Steel Rail Blues in my tribute to The Last Spike, and Canadian Railway Trilogy in my very first blog post.  You may find this hard to believe but I actually didn't realize I was so enamoured of trains until I started blogging!

Gordon Lightfoot / Sixteen Miles

I have seen this next group perform this song live and I am a big fan of this indie Canadian duo. Corin Raymond is the singer/songwriter with Sean Cotton providing harmonizing vocals and guitar.  I was actually saving this song for a Halloween post because it's kind of spooky and only incidentally about a train, but I couldn't resist including a song from my new fave Canadian band with the likes of old standards like Neil, Gord and Murray!

The Undesirables / Night Train

Not only do I enjoy songs about trains but artwork as well.  I have included Monet's paintings of trains on previous posts, here are a couple of different artists who feature a train in their paintings.

 Alex Colville /Horse and Train

I am an admirer of Alex Colville's paintings, but I also like this because it was featured on an album cover by Bruce Cockburn (I will have to do a post on him sometime!)

 Here is another one of his with a train theme.  Rather romantic, isn't it?

Alex Colville / Soldier and Girl at Station

J.M.W Turner / Rain. Steam and Speed 
This has always been one of my favourite paintings. It was part of the set of paintings in the art auction board game "Masterpiece" which I used to enjoy playing as a child.  That was my introduction to Monet as well.  Speaking of Monet, this painting was one of the ones he studied during his first visit to London.  It is very impressionistic, isn't it?  It must have been very inspiring to him.

Here is what I have found very inspiring.... Fan videos starring Richard Armitage!  Here is a lovely one of him as John Thornton in Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South.  The video uses music from the miniseries to show us the final scene in the train station.  Every scene in this production is a work of art as is the score by Martin Phipps, but this scene is the most gloriously romantic in film history!  It makes me forget the fact that it would have never actually happened at a real train station in England during the Victorian Age. It keeps me from thinking at all! But who wants to think, when you are watching the best kiss ever?!

Veryval / North and South 'When it happened at the train station.....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Meet Murray

Murray McLauchlan is a Canadian singer/songwriter who has been part of the Canadian music scene since the 1970s.  His first big hit was The Farmer's Song which didn't really appeal to me as it sounded very country style.  I didn't really take much notice of him until I heard Hard Rock Town, as the lyrics to this song really spoke to me.  When I heard his first Greatest Hits compilation, it made me realize what a talent he truly was.

Many years later I had the privilege of hearing him perform in my own home town.  Not many performers of his caliber ever make their way into my neck of the wood so I was very excited to hear him.  He did not disappoint! His performance was second to none, and even his between song chatting was pure entertainment in itself!  The only thing that bothered me was the behaviour of my hometown crowd.  They seemed barely energetic enough to give a decent applause.  I was mortified. I ended up trying to clap louder to make up for everyone else, until my hands stung and my arms ached!  I have seen this kind of reaction before in local crowds, and I really can't understand it!  If they had seen the same performance in a big city with a huge crowd -- they would have been screaming like crazy!  It's like they don't value anyone who would come to perform in such a small town. He actually came for our summer festival and because he had a friend here to stay with, the performance was just an extra treat he agreed to do.  I don't think he would bother doing it again, more's the pity.

Here is a short biographical video which discusses a greatest hits compilation produced in 2007.

Unfortunately, there are very few good videos of Murray McLauchlan's songs on Youtube.  I wanted to show you Hard Rock Town but the video includes Wolfman Jack (a radio DJ) dancing so it is pretty weird.  My other favourite song is Boulevard. I also am fond of Little Dreamer, but even better than that is Do You Dream of Being Somebody.  You can listen to short clips from his songs at  This next song is very nice too.  I am right in the mood for it too as it has been raining quite a bit here lately.

Whispering Rain

In this video Murray is accompanied by several other musicians including Ian Thomas (I mentioned him in my post Time Out with Phylly). This group is called Lunch at Allen's

I remember hearing that Murray McLauchlan quite enjoyed his visit to our little oasis in the wilderness.  Although he is from the big city of Toronto, he knows how to fly a bush plane and he enjoys fishing and hunting and that's what makes this dot on the map pretty special. 

I never really thought much about entertaining a celebrity here until very recently.  But I think this place would be a very restful hideaway for Richard Armitage, especially once he really hits the big time -- after his latest movies Captain America and especially The Hobbit are released.  I think it's a shame that he has a fear of dark water and I would do my very best to help cure him!  Almost all the lakes here have fairly dark water... but they are wonderful for swimming.  I wouldn't care how long it took for him to get over his fear.  I've got all summer while school is out!

I wouldn't suggest he wear this bathingsuit though. It might attract too much attention, don't ya think?