Tag Archives: Randy Newman

One Day I’ll…Someday I’ll Come Home

I went on Saturday to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival & it was fantastic, but Sunday was the day that I will remember for all my days. My sister & I arrived early in the morning to make sure we had a good seat at the stage where the Avett Brothers would play later that evening. They were the ones we wished to see most of all, but we were eager to see everything that the festival had to offer.

When the Felice Brothers came on, expectations were low. I’d heard of the band from New York in passing, but was not sure of what they had to offer. What they had to offer was a brilliant collection of songs that came across as a hybrid of Bob Dylan, The Band & Tom Waits.  We marveled at their presence & we enjoyed them without reservation.

Then came on Moon Alice & we were less enthusiastic about their performance. They were from a bygone generation of Dead Heads that didn’t appeal to my or her generation*. They spoke of doing hallucinogenic drugs & of playing with the Grateful Dead throughout the world. I must put this out there that I have a strong distaste towards the Grateful Dead & Jam bands in particular. It’s great if you’re on acid, but if stoned or drunk it does nothing but wear on one’s patience. Since I’ve never tried any psychedelic drugs (unless you consider pot as such) I couldn’t relate.

*My sister & I are 15 years apart, but oftentimes, if not at all times, she is the voice of reason.

Boodge (what my sister will be heretofore referred to as) & I decided to eat lunch. The sun came out for a spell & we basked in its glory, however short lived & we were asked by a young hippie what we were eating & where we could get it. Whole Foods, that corporate conglomerate that brilliantly markets itself to nonconformists was the answer & she brimmed with near luminescence at the suggestion that we didn’t propagate one of the other corporate establishments such as: Safeway, Raley’s or Lucky’s. As if this corporation was better than the others because it had a better global strategy to make more money by being the organic food headquarters, by being morally just to  follow laws about fair trade & by not being afraid to hire those, nay encourage their employees (male or female) to have dreadlocks & beards. A brilliant corporate strategy & one not lost on those that have the power of literacy.

I, however, could care less about any of that. While being a concerned global citizen, my main objective is selfish to be true. I want the best price I can find for my buck. Sure I can get a cup of coffee for a buck & Winchell’s**, but Starbuck’s offers the facilities to sit & write this diatribe for $1.95 so I’m getting more for my money. That, my friends, is economics.

**That is assuming I’m not dating myself & Winchell’s is still around.

After we consumed our hummus & flatbread thing with Spinach we left our blanket & ice chest at our little spot & headed off to wander to the various booths of food & merch before going to see Randy Newman. Randy Newman was uproariously funny. Cracking jokes in-between songs & we laughed as if seated in a comedy club. It was half way through the set that I became distracted by a curious Groundhog, named Gunther by Boodge. He would come up eat a little grass, peer out over the crowd & scurry back into his hole. Shy, but not overly so it didn’t take him to long to become comfortable with me & eat leaves right from my hand.

After Randy Newman’s set, which included scattered boos for playing “I Love L.A.” we headed off to see Elvis Costello, one of the larger draws of the show. We got a spot on  a hill about a mile away, which was great for about five minutes until the sheer masses of people began to crowd around us & the young Boodge’s claustrophobia got the better of her. Five songs & we headed off to the Avett Brothers stage. Declan MacMannus would have to wait for another day.

As we walked over, Boodge felt a desire to apologize for her ailments. How heartless must one be to want to subject someone they care about to such deplorable a condition as thousands of people pushing against you & making you terribly uncomfortable. Apologies weren’t necessary as I was none to happy to subject her or myself to something thoroughly unenjoyable.

We caught the Yonder Mountain String Band & they made us dance with a joy that is usually reserved for weddings, funerals & bar mitzvahs. Banjos, fiddles & an accordion ruled the hour as we lost all inhibition to what others may think. We had never heard their music before, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying them as if they were our hometown band making a trip through one last time.

After they finished we anxiously awaited the band we wanted to see most of all. Boodge wanted them to play “Colorshow” more than anything & wouldn’t you know they came out & led with it. The tempo was set & we lost ourselves in the music. They played songs from their newest album, their older albums & a cover of Doc Watson’s “Blue Ridge Mountains”. The throngs of people made it even better as we belted out the lyrics as though we’d written them ourselves. We sang with reckless abandon as well all peered out over the haze of fog & marijuana smoke that permeated the festival atmosphere.

As if on cue when “Salina” came on we danced like Native Americans dancing for rain & when the lyric “The rain it fell, the story went on. The rain it fell & we got gone” came we all screamed it as a steady drizzle fell in the valley of trees where the stage was situated. Epic is a word that I throw around, sometimes too often, but that is what the scene was in a word. The energy put into that set left us speechless. After an hour & a half of singing & playing their hearts out the boys from North Carolina left the stage to pure love & affection.

In that moment, where we all sang “I & Love & You” & the Avetts left the stage we genuinely felt it. It was nothing but admiration, thankfulness & love for giving us an experience. There are things that have stuck with me in my life, the births of my sisters, niece & nephew, my father’s passing, the first time I saw Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney & Bad Religion. This was one of those moments where time stood still & 100, 000 voices on the ground, in the trees, on hills sang in unison to the heavens. No violence, no strife as the free festival carried through three days of peace due to the benevolence & generosity of Warren Hellman.

As we left the excitement was palpable & life was good. We were throughly exhausted, but it was the good kind. The kind that makes you know that the thing you just witnessed was magical & will be a story that never grows old. We were there, like it was Monterey ’67 or Woodstock ’69. We watched these artists give us joy & in turn we gave them love & admiration. Our lives were forever changed by music & why shouldn’t it be music that changes lives. Why must life always be changed by negative things? Why can’t that those moments of joy stay locked in our cranial cavities like money in a safe only coming out when we feel the need to share. It was a glorious day!

Mr. President Have Pity on the Working Man

News of GM’s failure to take the billions given to them in January & keep their sinking ship afloat surfaced the other day as they filed for bankruptcy. On top of that, they were given another 30 billion dollars while they close down dealerships & put more people on the unemployment line. What’re they doing with this money? What did they do with the other countless billions they’ve been given?

$2.8 million went to lobbying for the first three months of 2009, $500,000 of which went to outside lobbying firms, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The Chrysler dealerships that are being closed are being given 3 weeks to rid themselves of their merchandise. And yet more money is given to a company that has been mismanaged for years. Did Bush step in & make an attempt to nip this problem in the bud? Did Clinton? Reagan? Why are we in this situation or is it too late to ask that question?

Perhaps, the time for asking why has passed. Perhaps, now we must ask when is enough enough? Perhaps, now we must ask who bails us out? Who bails out the single mother with two kids that has to get a $9 an hour job just to feed her children? Who bails out the home owner who’s interest rates have become so exorbitant that it makes it difficult to pay their mortgage? Who bails out the woman who’s property taxes become so ridiculous that she must decide whether or not keeping her house is worth it any longer?

Who, Mr. President? I voted for you. I respect & admire you & I know you’ve been given a tough task. I know you’re doing what you think is best, but please, to quote Randy Newman, “Have pity on the working man.” We built this country with our blood, sweat and tears. Many of our ancestors came from other country’s to turn this country into the beautiful place it is, but in all this economic destruction that is collapsing all around us we’re being lost in the shuffle.

Please, Mr. President, while you’re taking the tax money that we’ve invested into this country’s backbone for years & giving it to failing banks, failed car company’s & greedy insurance company’s remember the dealership that now must close, the restaurant that no longer can afford to stay open or the mom & pop market that’s been open for 30 years & now must shut it’s doors. Those are all the blue collared people that make this country what it is. Don’t forget about us, Mr. President.

We’ve taken all you’ve given
But it’s gettin’ hard to make a livin’
Mr. President have pity on the working man

We’re not asking you to love us
You may place yourself high above us
Mr. President have pity on the working man

I know it may sound funny
But people every where are runnin’ out of money
We just can’t make it by ourselves

It is cold and the wind is blowing
We need something to keep us gong
Mr. President have pity on the working man

Randy NewmanMr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)

Lord, It’s Lonely At the Top

This is the last full week of George W. Bush’s presidency and many Americans are grateful, myself included. Was he a good president? Absolutely not. In fact it is widely assumed that he may have been the worst of all time. While this might be a stretch, it does illustrate the point that he is widely disliked. He is extremely stubborn & seemingly unabashed in his “War on Terror” that has cost us 4,224. 4,085 since the now infamous Mission Accomplished speech. He, in all fairness, has also given over 15 billion dollars to African nations to fight the A.I.D.S. virus which has helped immensely in a country ravaged by the disease.

George Bush’s failed policies have ravaged the economy to the point where we are the nearest we’ve been to a Depression since the “Great Depression”. His war in Iraq is partly to blame for that as the cost approaches 600 billion dollars. On September 11, 2001, as we watched the twin towers fall, we were steadfastly behind our president as we put the fate of our nation in his hands to decide what course of action we should take. He decided to perpetrate a lie to get us into a war we had no business getting into while ignoring everyone else in his so called “Axis of Evil”.

He has his convictions, though, and for that he does not apologize, nor should he. He believes what he believes and he’ll be damned if you’re gonna sway him. He is loyal to a fault. He stuck with Rumsfeld & Cheney longer than anyone would or should have & he helped those that helped him cheat his way into office. In some way, you have to admire that. However, the everlasting legacy of the Bush administration will be that of torture. Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is

“any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.”

The Bush administration has admittedly waterboarded suspected terrorists in hopes of gaining some information out of them, which, if you know anything about torture, is rarely accurate. A person being tortured will tell you anything you want to hear so long as you stop torturing them, even if what you want to hear is something they have no knowledge of. They have imprisoned hundreds of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay for years without so much as being charged for a crime, let alone a fair trial. Bush has allowed Dick Cheney, a man that I truly consider evil, to commandeer this war and use the puppet Bush to advance his own ideals.

For some reason, I have never considered George Bush a truly evil man. Ineffective, stubborn, ignorant…yes. Evil…no. It has always been my belief that it was Dick Cheney who allowed, condoned and sanctioned the torturing of hundreds if not thousands of people in this war. At the end of the day, though, it is George Bush’s name on the office of The Presidency & he is the one who must answer to the lingering questions that history will present to him. It is he that must look in the mirror everyday and ask if he truly made the most of his time in office. It is he that will one day meet his maker, whatever form that may be, & when asked if he did all he could to promote happiness and well being throughout society, he must answer I did not, because I allowed countless people to be tortured on my watch. That is his legacy & that is how George Bush will be remembered.

Randy NewmanLonely at the Top