Jesse Ruben–“We Can”

I’ve discovered a new singer/songwriter today…at least to me. This morning I heard the tail end of a song during the final few minutes of the Today show with Kathie Lee and Hoda. The lyrics were so positive, and the singing so good, that I just had to see who it was. All I saw was a banner with the name “Jesse” and a guy with his guitar. It took a few minutes of research to find Jesse Ruben, who is based in New York City.  He sounds like a guy with a lot of heart–and a tremendous sense of mission.

He’ll be playing Jammin’ Java on Monday. Alas, I found out too late. He’s playing the Ram’s Head Tavern in Annapolis on March 30. It would take some doing to travel up there.  I still have to work that one out. Maybe he’ll play the Birchmere one day soon. I signed up on his mailing list, at any rate.

Here’s a video of “We Can,” the song I like so much. What a day brightener!  And spirit brightener.


Bob Marley Mornings

I never liked reggae. There: I admit. it. I bought one CD in college and absolutely hated it. I eventually gave it away. Now, after all these years, I’m slowly changing my mind about the genre.

One recent evening, one of our assistants was humming something and dancing while she was assisting me. I asked who she was playing, and she said, “Bob Marley.” I groaned inwardly, but listened. I can’t remember which song it was.

As soon as our other assistant heard it, she came in singing and dancing too. They both told me how popular Bob Marley’s music is in Africa (and I guess around the world). I know he’s considered the father of reggae, and that there have been many books written about him.

It turns out that I already knew two of his songs, “Stir It Up” (I grew up on the Johnny Nash version) and “I Shot the Sheriff” (Eric Clapton version).  But Marley did so much more. The songs mix romance, protest, and historical themes of Jamaica and elsewhere. Alas, he died too soon.

The Marleys were and are a musical family. I like his mom’s version of “Redemption Song.” Rita Marley, his wife, also has a nice one called “There Will Always Be Music.”

One Bob Marley song in particular inadvertently created a lot of comedy mileage. I was so startled by the screams, etc. (e.g., What the hell was THAT?!) mat the beginning of a version of “Chase Those Crazy Baldheads Out of Town” that everyone laughed about it for three weeks. We all agree that it does fit the mood of the song.

So nearly every morning, my helper plays Bob Marley. It’s  her favorite, but she also knows that I’m curious and am enjoying it. I’m beginning to recognize the songs right away. She also says that music of any kind makes work go faster.

Here are two of my favorites–“One Love” and “Three Little Birds (Don’t Worry about a Thing)”



I thought it would also help if I learned the instruments in a reggae band. So here’s some information. I guess the genre isn’t so bad after all.

Andy M. Stewart–A Tribute

Damn! Damn! Damn! Yesterday, I was listening to Andy M. Stewart’s version of ‘The Loch Tay Boat Song” on YouTube and then later cranked it up for “The Queen of Argyll.” I hadn’t played any Silly Wizard for a long time, and I missed the music. I started reading the YouTube comments. One person wrote: “RIP Andy.” I wanted to cry. I did not know until I read this obit from TheScotsman that he passed away on December 27, 2015 after numerous health problems. He was only 63.

I discovered Silly Wizard’s recordings just a few years after they disbanded. It all started at a Schooner Fare concert during their Signs of Home tour. That CD has a gorgeous  cover of “Golden,Golden.” Before they performed it, Steve Romanoff asked, “Has anyone ever heard of Andy M. Stewart, the Scottish folk singer?” I hadn’t, but after the song I decided to find out. That led to owning all of Silly Wizard’s recordings, his own By the Hush. and Johnny Cunningham’s Fair Warning. I still have them.  Stewart’s version of “Golden, Golden” is best; after all, he wrote it.

It wasn’t just his interviews, his humor, or the beauty of his singing voice. His concert with Manus Lunny was the first concert I attended by myself–ever. It was November 1990, and I heard they would be appearing at Ireland’s Four Provinces, a pub in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. (This location closed several years ago; now there’s one near where I live.) Anyway, they were doing two shows–at 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. I wanted to go to the early show.

I was 26, so I knew I would likely be okay because I tried my best to be watchful and wise. However, as a motorized wheelchair user and a woman, so many people feared (and still fear) for my safety at night. I told my aunt of my plans, and she was against it. We had a prolonged disagreement for about three days. But I couldn’t let go. She didn’t want to go with me, and no one else was available to ask. No way could I manufacture a boyfriend out of thin air to go with me. I thought about hiring a bodyguard, and then wondered exactly how to do that. I knew it was up to me. The next day at work, I made the arrangements. That evening at dinner, I told my aunt: “I’m going to the show.” She didn’t like it, but relented.  “For God’s sake, be careful!” she said as she hugged me on concert day.

The workday was typical. After I left the office I rode the Metro to Cleveland Park. It was raining, but I had my red rain cape.The line was long getting in, but several people assisted me with directions and answered my questions. I went in, put my purse, cape and the novel I was reading on a nearby chair and looked around. It was crowded, but felt very homey. A server handed me a menu. I ordered an Irish coffee–for the one and only time–with dinner. I chatted about folk music and Celtic instruments with the people around me.

Then the show started. It was great seeing Andy in person!  He did many of the familiar songs, including “Dublin Lady” and Silly Wizard songs, but much of the program was from the new recording, At It Again. I bought a copy, and I still have it, too. He was so funny!  My only regret is not attempting to approach him to say hello and “great job!” Once the show ended, I gathered my stuff, went to the Metro to ride to my bus stop to get the bus home.

When I got home, I couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. My aunt enjoyed my running commentary, and said she was glad I had a good time. That led to many other concerts, plays, night classes and events by myself. But I liked it better going with my aunt and other people. As a friend says, “Concerts are better shared.” A few years later, my aunt and I saw Andy M. Stewart again–this time with Gerry O’Beirne–as part of Wolf Trap’s Irish Festival.

I also miss his bandmate Johnny Cunningham, whom I had seen at The Barns of Wolf Trap once, with Christian LeMaitre and the fiddler from The Chieftains.. Johnny appeared with his brother, Phil, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which would have been around 2001. Johnny died in 2003.

Here’s a recording of “Golden, Golden”:


Here’s Silly Wizard’s 1988 live performance of “The Banks of the Bann/Willie Archer.” The other day while doing errands, tunes from Live Wizardry were in my head as I went up and down the sidewalk.

My own concert days are limited now for various reasons. But I still would like to go to something special one day again. I would love to go to a concert with my aunt again, but it’s not something she finds enjoyable now. But I keep hoping…

And I also think of the Righteous Brothers’ song about rock-and-roll heaven. Much sadness and loss is happening in the wider world these days. Music may not heal in some situations. But it is comforting to think that musicians who are no longer here of every stripe have a hell of a band.

Peter Mayer’s “Japanese Bowls”

When I first heard this song on a 2011 episode of “A Prairie Home Companion” and the blogged about it, I had no idea that people would love the song so and respond to the post.. I’m so happy that people like it.

I’ve had some comments from people who have had trouble downloading Jearlyn Steele’s performance. It’s still available on the PHC website. Just click on Segment 3 of the audio icon. I believe it’s also on one of Steele’s CDs available in the Pretty Good Goods Catalog.

I also tried additional YouTube searches. Here’s performance of it by Peter Mayer himself, with background on what inspired the song. Enjoy! Also check out some of his other songs.

Here’s a video with lyrics:

Music from “About Time”

Sometimes, music presents itself when you least expect it. I watched the 2013 romantic comedy About Time, which I found rather charming. In it, a man born into a family of time travelers changes history for good. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey, but it also makes you think. The film’s message: Live your everyday life–the good, the bad, and the mundane. But take time to really notice the small things, the little details about people, places, and experiences–that make life worth living.

As with most modern films, there is a soundtrack. Here are two songs that made an impression on me. Enjoy!

“How Long Will I Love You?”

“The Luckiest” (by Ben Folds)

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring is another Bach favorite. I’ve heard it many times in my life, but never could keep the title in my head until recently. Inspired by a Jacquie Lawson Easter e-card where it was the musical accompaniment, I like it even better now. It always makes me think of new days to start over in, hope rising,  peacefulness, and early mornings.

Here’s the orchestral version:

And the piano version:

And one with vocals:

The Sounds of Sickness

Everyone in my household is coming down with something. I don’t have it as bad as described in the following song, but I have been trying to laugh to keep my spirits up while keeping warm, drinking tea, and grabbing for nearby Kleenex. I never liked Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence,” but I thoroughly enjoyed this NPR parody from “A Prairie Home Companion” several years ago. Stay well, everyone, and enjoy.


The Sound of Sickness lyrics
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hello darkness, my old friend
I have gone to bed again
Because a virus came in to me
And I’m feeling tired and gloomy
And my head hurts and I’m achy and I’m hot
And full of snot
I hear the sound of sickness


I have a fever and I ache
Because I made a big mistake
When I taught my class in Sunday school
And those kids began to sniff and drool
While I was teaching them the parables of Jesus
I heard their sneezes
And all the sounds of sickness


I came home and went to bed
And felt a throbbing in my head
And I’m getting the idea
I will soon have diarhhea
And I can’t go out for fear I might explode
And drop a load
And hear the sound of sickness

And in the drugstore light I saw,
Ten thousand people maybe more.
People shivering in their V-necks
Buying Benadryl and Kleenex.
And Vapo-rub and aspirin (AH CHOO)
God bless you.
It is the sound of sickness.


“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
How it feels to be laid low
Why am I the one who’s fated
To be so awfully nauseated
And something like silent raindrops fell
And what a smell
I hear the sounds of sickness


And the people bowed and prayed
For relief and for first aid
For they had it without question
Awful nasal congestion
And fatigue and achiness, the whole bit
They felt like crap
And heard the sounds of sickness


And heard the sounds of sickness.

FN (PLUGGED UP): This is Fred Newman. I’m not going to make it in to work today.

And heard the sound of sickness.

The Sound of Sickness
—originally: “The Sound of Silence” by Paul Simon © 1964 Paul Simon
—new lyrics: Garrison Keillor © 2007 Maia Maia Music (BMI)


I Got the Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night

Several days ago, I was watching a rerun of Hawaii Five-O.  Carol Burnett guest-starred. At the end of the show, she sang, “I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning.” I loved her rendition of it. It’s also special to me because my aunt used to sing it to me at various times when I was a kid . I think she’d still remember the melody even if she doesn’t remember the words anymore. We’d pretend we were performers at what we called “The Stardust Ballroom.” She was always the best singer–and still is, when she feels like doing it.

I couldn’t find a YouTube clip with Carol Burnett singing the song, so I found one with Doris Day’s recording of it. Incidentally, Doris Day was one of my aunt’s favorite actresses and singers when she was young. But that is best left to a separate post.

Irving Berlin wrote it. The song was made famous in the musical “Annie Get Your Gun.”

I Got The Sun In The Morning Lyrics

Taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t
What do I find?
The things I got will keep me satisfied
Checking up on what I have and what I haven’t
What do I find?
A healthy balance on the credit side
Got no diamond
Got no pearl
Still I think I’m a lucky girl
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Got no mansion
Got no yacht
Still I’m happy with what I got
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Gives me a lovely day
Gives me the Milky Way
Got no checkbooks
Got no banks
Still I’d like to express my thanks
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening
I’m all right
Got no mansion
Got no yacht
Still I’m happy with what I got
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Got no silver
Got no gold
What I got can’t be bought or sold
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Gives me a lovely day
Gives me the Milky Way
Got no checkbooks
Got no banks
Still I’d like to express my thanks
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening
I’m all right
Gives me a lovely day
Gives me the Milky Way
Got no heirlooms
For my kin
Made no will but when I cash in
I leave the sun in the morning and the moon at night
And with the sun in the morning
And the moon in the evening they’re all right

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles!

I heard in passing on a TV news program that yesterday was the 52nd anniversary of the Beatles.  I caused much consternation and disbelief whrn I told my friends in college that I didn’t like the Beatles. They immediately set out to educate me. That’s how I saw the movie Yellow Submarine and a Beatles mockumentary by Monty Python. Other people shared about which of their songs moved them. Another friend admitted that “The Long and Winding Road” makes him want to cry. The melody of it caught my ear, and the words move me. Whenever I hear it, I think of love, loss, and reconciliation. For a while, I had a cassette tape of the band’s final album, Let It Be.

Also, I have seen clips of the Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and their other concerts so often that I feel like I was there, but I was too young to really remember. Radio shows also offered tribute to the Beatles, and I guess I must have absorbed some music, after all, but I never really paid attention. I have yet to see a Beatles tribute band. I suppose I am more of the Paul McCartney & Wings generation. After college, anytime I ran across a Beatles movie or a documentary, I attempted to watch them. So now I feel like I’m catching up on all that I have missed. And yes, I did read about them. I enjoyed the 2006 biography, The Beatles, by Bob Spitz.

Another friend of mine grew up listening to classical music, and still enjoys it. She always liked “Eleanor Rigby” because of the orchestral-sounding violins. Other songs contain elements of classical music.

Paul McCartney’s only classical music effort was 1991’s Liverpool Oratorio. This has thirteen parts–all available on YouTube.

One evening as I researched material for another blog entry, I wanted to hear a Beatles tune–any tune. That’s how I found this Rolling Stone story about the 100 Greatest Beatles songs.

I like the songs from their early albums best. Interestingly, I want to hear one from a later album. Go figure. So here, in no particular order, are some favorite Beatles songs. Enjoy!

The Long and Winding Road:

Here, There, and Everywhere:

Nowhere Man:

Let It Be:


Hey, Jude:


Paperback Writer:

Life Goes On:

Hello, Goodbye:

If I’m ever lucky enough to make it to the UK, one of the many things I want to do in London is roll in my power wheelchair down Abbey Road, just as the Beatles do in the photo on the album cover.

Here Comes the Sun:

Octopus’s Garden:

Yellow Submarine:

Now for their solo work:

Ringo Starr

It Don’t Come Easy:

Liverpool 8 (Full Album):

Paul McCartney

Band On the Run (Full Wings Album, 1973):

Ebony and Ivory (with Stevie Wonder, “In Performance at the White House,” 2010. The song was originally recorded in 1982.): 


McCartney — Dance Tonight (Love the mandolin in this!):

George Harrison

My Sweet Lord:

All Those Years Ago:

John Lennon

John Lennon Greatest Hits (Full AlBum):

So This Is Christmas:


This next song is by Christine Lavin. She wrote “The Dakota” as a tribute to John Lennon.

Now I fully realize how much the Beatles changed and influenced music as a whole–as a group and in their solo careers. They tried many instruments new to rock–such as the sitar. With each album, they tried to do different things, Some I like better than others, Now I can finally say I like the Beatles–and what a great ride it must have been.

“Waterfalls”–A New Interpretation

The other night, I saw Bette Midler on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She has a new CD out which honors the girl groups from decades gone by, all the way up to the 1990s. She performed a beautiful song that I didn’t know, called “Waterfalls,” originally performed by the rap and R&B group TLC. I was very haunted by the lyrics, so I decided to look up the original version, the first one listed below.

Here is Bette Midler’s version from the new CD:

Bette Midler has performed many great songs from different eras. I have her Peggy Lee CD. I also enjoyed “The Rose” and some of her modern jazz songs like “TKO.” But Midler’s version of Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Julie Gold‘s “From A Distance” is my favorite, although I like Nanci Griffith’s version a lot as well. The video below also includes the lyrics. The original poster, however, has made an error. The correct line is: “From a distance, we are instruments, marching in a common band.”

When this song was first popular, it was always on the radio. One day, when I was on lunch break from work, it was playing on a deli’s radio. I remember one of the workers singing, it, and he commented that it was his favorite song.

And finally, here’s Bette Midler’s cover of “In My Life,” by the Beatles:


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