“Oh My, But That Little Country Boy Could Play…”

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry circa 1955 (original source unknown).

 

This is, indeed, a tremendous loss. As one of the architects of rock and roll, Chuck Berry’s contribution to music, for those who play it, listen to it and love it, will always be immense. The guitar riff that opens “Johnny B. Goode” is perfection defined.  Nearly 20 years after its release, it was included on Voyager 1’s Golden Record.  And in 1985, it took us all “Back To The Future“.

 

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Bruce Springsteen and Chuck Berry performing together at the Concert for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Sept. 1995 (Courtesy Mike Duncan/AP).

 

When the Beatles came to America on February 7, 1964 and performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” two days later, it changed the world.  When the Beatles performed their first concert in the United States later that same year – in Washington, DC – their opening song was “Roll Over Beethoven” because Chuck Berry changed their world.

Thank you for everything, Chuck. We miss you already.

 

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Weekend Wanderings

Hello, Vixens!!!  Happy Monday!!!

Today we celebrate the life of a man who worked for peace.  Last Friday, there was a funeral for a man who followed in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr. by becoming a beacon of hope and inspiration for people all over the world.  However, his story began on my old stomping grounds of Long Island.

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Courtesy of Joyful Baptist (original source unknown).  

He followed his father and grandfather before him into the line of duty as a member of the NYPD.  In 1986, while he was still a rookie officer, the 29 year old newlywed was working overtime to help prepare for the birth of his first child when he was shot three times by a 15 year old boy in Central Park.  The injuries from that shooting left the officer paralyzed from the neck down.  That might have been the end of the story for most of us, but for Detective First Grade Steven McDonald, it was the start of something extraordinary.

Less than a year later he offered forgiveness to his shooter and spent the next 30 years spreading the message to children and adults that Dr. King taught-that hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.  McDonald died at the age of 59 on January 10, 2017 and his funeral was held last Friday in St Patrick’s Cathedral.  I listened to it at work and then watched the service when I got home that night.  All I can write here is that it was one of the most beautiful celebrations of life I have ever witnessed.

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The McDonald family:  NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, his wife Patricia Ann & their son, Sgt. Conor McDonald (courtesy WPIX-11 News)

With all the violence we hear about day in and day out, all the hate and ugliness of the Presidential Election and the continued backlash expected on Inauguration Day later this week for those who still refuse to accept the outcome, I think we need to be reminded that there are still people in this world who want love to win-regardless of their political affiliation.  If you are one of them, watch or listen to the service yourself here.   If religion is not your thing, you can just listen to the eulogies starting at 1:31 of the video.  The last one by McDonald’s son should not be missed.

I am not sure if I shared this yet, but I have not made New Year’s resolutions in years because they simply are not productive for me.  I work better by giving myself attainable monthly goals.  For January, one of my big ones is to finish decorating my bedroom.  I put some things in place quickly for the holiday season, but now it is time to complete it.  The entire apartment was freshly painted before I moved in, but this room & the dining room were painted yellow.  I had a yellow bedroom in my house for he entire time I lived there (please don’t judge-painting that room lead to a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome so I avoided painting it again for many years…..which ended up turning into forever).

During the 14 years I lived there, I developed a more neutral palette & an enormous love for the shabby chic look.  So Saturday I went to the hardware store to get some paint samples.  I want the room white and I have narrowed the color choices down to four shades.  I will decide by the weekend because that is when I plan to paint.  I will share the shade I pick when I show you the after picture.  For now, the before picture is below:

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Saturday night my book club met for a movie night based on one of last year’s great reads, “The Light Between Oceans”.  I was able to snap one picture as I was assembling my food contribution to the evening-a turkey meat taco bar-before my phone died.  But I also had cheese, avocados, & sour cream as toppings.  Each of us were required to bring a box of tissues for the inevitable bawling we were anticipating for the really sad scenes.  I did like the movie but since I knew what was coming it made it very hard to watch, but definitely worth seeing……with a ton of tissues, of course.

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After the movie the rest of the women said the last time they used so many tissues was when they watched Tuesday night’s episode of NBC’s new show, “This Is Us“.  I have seen the commercials praising the show & was a little curious, but since my heart is still hurting two years after the finale of that station’s last critically acclaimed drama “Parenthood“, I was not ready to invest my feelings in a new family.  But the girls were so insistent-and did not reveal any spoilers to me just like I will not do here-plus they told me one of my favorite TV guys from my teenage years-Gerald McRaney-(“Simon & Simon“, “Major Dad“) has a recurring role in it, I thought I would check it out.  All the episodes are on Hulu so I was able to start at the beginning.

I could describe the show with one of today’s popular acronyms, but I think the series is good enough to use the actual words…….

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Courtesy of NBC.

OOOOOHHHHH

MMMMMYYYYY

GGGGGOOOOODDDDD!!!!!

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Susan Kelechi Watson & Sterling K. Brown from “This Is Us” (courtesy of NBC).

Despite my emphasis, that does not even begin to explain the greatness of this show.

I am not even kidding.

I started watching the pilot at around 11 pm Saturday night.  Then I binge-watched the next 10 episodes.

For eight hours straight.

Then I re-watched my favorite episode-“Pilgrim Rick”-two more times.

(Side note:  The last four minutes of this episode bring a whole new meaning to the word “dysfunction”).

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A scene from “This Is Us-Episode 8:  “Pilgrim Rick” (courtesy of NBC).

I was in serious need of an intervention.

That is how addicted I became almost instantly.  It was scary.

Then I fell asleep.

When I woke up, I started the series all over again.

Is there a 12 step program for binge watching addiction???

But first, where do I begin to explain how much I adore this show???

The writing?  Think verklempt times infinite.

The acting?  Superb.

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Mandy Moore & Milo Ventimiglia as Rebecca and Jack Pearson in “This Is Us” (courtesy of NBC).  

I already loved Milo Ventimiglia from his role as know-it-all-chip-on-his-shoulder Jess in “The Gilmore Girls”.  But here he is just as perfectly cast as a good guy who turns into an absolute superman of a father and husband.  Unbelievably, the performance did not garner him a nomination at last week’s Golden Globe Awards but the Hollywood Foreign Press did recognize the show as a whole and two other actors from it-Mandy Moore & Chrissy Metz-who were each nominated in the best supporting actress in a drama category. Moore really shines here, too.  If you have seen any of her movies over the years (I had not) or her three episode arc in “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2010 (I had), then you knew she had some serious acting chops.  She uses them in this show beautifully.

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Ventimiglia & Moore at the Golden Globe Awards (courtesy of Zimbio -original source unknown).

And the music?  Profound.

Episode three (“Kyle”) featured one of my all time favorite songs ever:  Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home“.  It also introduced me to a song from 1965 that is now haunting me.  It was written by a man who had such a sad life yet wrote something so mesmerizing and excruciatingly beautiful that it is almost  too hard to listen to.  In my opinion, that is art at its best.

Jackson C. Frank:  “Blues Run The Game“.

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Jackson C. Frank circa mid 1960’s (original source unknown)

Episode 9 (“The Trip”) introduced me to another old song-this time from 1974-that I never heard before.  The vocals do not start until 58 seconds in, so if you do not like the intro of the song, definitely fast forward to the singing because it is so worth it, I promise.

Richard and Linda Thompson:  “The Calvary Cross

Now that I gave  you the pros, it is only fair I give you the cons of the show:

  1.  Waiting an ENTIRE week for each new episode (there are six left for the season).  It will be torture.  I guess re-watching the previously aired ones will have to fill the void (if you do not subscribe to Hulu, you can watch a few episodes at NBC.com).
  2.  Gerald McRaney is not a series regular.  He is still so handsome and a hell of an actor.  He is one of TV’s best –  right  up there with Tom Selleck.
  3.  Despite the superb writing, the show already borrowed a pretty recent story line from another show.  One of the female characters  has a serious weight issue, so she attends a meeting for Over-Eaters Anonymous where she finds a boyfriend. That is exactly  how  the  characters  on “Mike & Molly” met.  While I think it is wonderful that  Hollywood is  now  embracing  overweight women (thank you, Melissa McCarthy), to suggest the only  place they can find love is in a support group is myopic, not to mention unrealistic.

If you like feel good dramas, “This Is Us” should not be missed.

So, how was your weekend???

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy digging!!!

Christmas Song Countdown #9

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown!!!

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I will admit this is not a great song.  Musically it leaves a lot to offer and the singing is, well, terrible.  And I could have produced it better despite the fact that I have never produced a record in my life.  And the video is one of the cheesiest ever made.

So why is it on the countdown, you ask???

BECAUSE IT’S FUN!!!

And funny.  To listen to and to sing.

One of the best things about the Christmas season is the traditions.  So when they are gone, it leaves a void and a bittersweet feeling that can be hard this time of year.

My cousins and I use to sing this to my grandmother on Christmas Eve while we were opening presents.  I may not remember what I received, but I remember the singing.  And my grandmother’s face as she laughed with us during the chorus.  I miss those Christmas Eves because I miss her so much I ache.  Incredibly big sigh.

Elmo & Patsy:  Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you   🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

wreath

 

Christmas Songs of the Day 12 & 13

Hello, Vixens!!!  Sorry I missed all of you yesterday but unfortunately, technical difficulties prevailed.  Ugh.  So first, let me wish you a happy Winter Solstice!!!  Two, to make up for missing yesterday, I will share two favorite holiday tunes with you today!!!

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Source:  Heartfelt Finds 

Up first is a familiar song that has closed out two of the most famous Christmas specials out there:  “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s A Wonderful Life“.  So many people have covered this tune so I have too many favorites to list here.  But this year I have been listening to Amy Grant’s version of “Hark! The Herald Angels” the most.  Not a lot of bells and whistles, just her voice strong and clear and in the same version I remember best from my childhood.  Sometimes simple says it best of all 🙂

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Source:  entertainment.caller.com

Next is a more modern song (despite the fact that it came out almost 40 years ag0) that almost instantly became a holiday staple from the minute it was first released, despite coming out in April not December.  For anyone who has ever been away from home for an extended period, from service men & women to college students to married couples who moved away from their families for various reasons, this song welcomes them all home and more.  It’s Kenny Loggins with “Celebrate Me Home“.

Please remember I do not own the rights to anything, I am just sharing my favorite music with you.

Enjoy!!!

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Source:  allmusic.com

 

 

Happy 75th Birthday, Ringo Starr!!!

Beatles drummer Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr, turns 75 years young today.

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Copyright 2012 by Michele Antonio

His career in music started over 50 years ago when he replaced Pete Best as the drummer of the band that was about to become known world wide as “The Fab Four”.  Starr was the lead singer on several Beatles’ songs including “With A Little Help From My Friends“, “Yellow Submarine” and “Octopus’s Garden“.

After the Beatles reign as the greatest band on earth ended (yes I wrote that!!!), Starr had several solo hits including “It Don’t Come Easy“, “Photograph” (co-written with George Harrison) and “You’re Sixteen“.  The latter two hit number one on the charts in November 1973 & January 1974, respectively.

The younger generation may also know him as “Mr. Conductor” on the “Shining Time Station” PBS series & as the narrator from the first two seasons of “Thomas and Friends”.

Earlier this year Starr was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo performer, having already been inducted as a member of the Beatles in 1988.  During the last 25 years he has been touring with his “All Starr Band” featuring a revolving group of musicians.

I was lucky enough to see him live twice at the theatre on Jones Beach in Wantagh, NY.  The first time was during the early 1990’s and the second was in 2012.  The pictures featured in this post are from the second show where I was 10 feet from one of the Beatles!!!

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Copyright 2012 by Michele Antonio

Thankfully, Ringo is still making music which you can listen to (while wishing him a happy birthday) here.

How do we thank a Beatle for EVERYTHING he has given us?  Music was never the same from the time we met him and the other lads from Liverpool via “The Ed Sullivan Show” on February 9, 1964.  A mere “thank you” seems inadequate.  I, for one, am eternally grateful!!!

Happy birthday, Ringo!!!

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #14

Happy February Vixens!!!

I have a love hate relationship with a lot of holidays.  I like to decorate for most of them but I do not like being told I have to feel something based on a date on the calendar instead of how I feel in my heart.  The worst offender to me is Valentine’s Day.

I like to express my love to my significant other, my family and everyone else in my life every day, so I do not feel the need to do it just because the calender reads February 14.  Don’t misunderstand me-I like pretty things.  I am a girl, after all.  But part of me cannot help but see this merely as a commercial holiday designed to sell cards, flowers and candy so I am reluctant to join in on the excess commercialism of it all.  Plus I hate the color red, especially for roses (I think pink or white ones are soooo much prettier!!!)

I also hate bubble gum music of ANY kind, and sappy syrupy love songs are the worst!!!  However, there are indeed some really great love songs out there and my favorites do not require an insulin shot to listen to.

So over the next two weeks I will be counting down my favorite love songs.  Hopefully it will not only help you handle all the hype surrounding this holiday, but it will also keep that overwhelming feeling to amputate your own ears away (okay, maybe that is just me).

My first pick, “A Love Song“, is from one of my favorite duos of all time. Kenny Loggins & Jim Messina.  It appeared on L & M’s third album, “Full Sail”  in 1973.  It was a hit for Anne Murray the same year but her version only included two of the three versus.  This song is simple, succinct and beautiful, and has a similar vibe to “Danny’s Song” which was released two years earlier.

Enjoy!!!

All Hail The King!!!

Photo courtesy of fineartamerica.com

Today Vixens we celebrate the 80th birthday of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis.  This man did it all:  sang, danced and acted (what is referred to today as a triple threat).  But what we are indebted to him for most of all is bringing rock and roll music-complete with country, R&B & gospel roots plus the songwriting geniuses of Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller-into mainstream America.

There is nothing I can write about this man that has not already been written, so I will not bore you with words other than these:  Thank you, Elvis Aaron Presley, for the enormous gift you gave and left us.  We are deeply indebted and grateful.

Here is a link to a YouTube montage clip of His Royalty performing one of those Leiber & Stoller gems, “Hound Dog“.  Pay homage to the King!!!

Enjoy, Vixens!!!