Goodnight everyone, and have a Grand Old weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Today was a big day.

An important day in our nation’s history.

Did you celebrate?

Did you remember?

This week, music of the red, white, and blue. A primer for Independence Day.

Let’s get started.

The best flag musical piece is the last number featured in this medley from the popular “Hooked On…” series by Louis Clark and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 1980’s. Get ready for hand-clapping!

Grand Union Flag Of 1776 : News Photo
An illustration of the Grand Union Flag of 1776. This was the first flag used by the American colonies to symbolize their unity during the War of Independence.(Kean Collection/Getty Images)

Comic Artists Pay Tribute to 9/11 Heroes : News PhotoArt work by artist Bob Layton illustrating rescue workers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is seen at a 2002 exhibit in New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The US flag is raised over the Marine Co : News PhotoThe U.S. flag is raised over the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Va., during an event to honor veterans of the Battle of Iwo Jima. (Photo by Tim Sloan /Getty Images)

Next up, the title of this week’s blog. There is music. There are lyrics. The 101 Strings? Yep. Dad had a few of their albums in his collection.

From the Library of Congress:

You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flyin’ flag
And forever in peace may you wave . . .

“You’re a Grand Old Flag” was written by George M. Cohan for his 1906 stage musical George Washington, Jr. The song was introduced to the public in the play’s first act on opening night, February 6, 1906, in New York’s Herald Square Theater. It was the first song from a musical to sell over a million copies of sheet music.

The original lyric for this perennial George M. Cohan favorite came, as Cohan later explained, from an encounter he had with a Civil War veteran who fought at Gettysburg. The two men found themselves next to each other and Cohan noticed the vet held a carefully folded but ragged old flag. The man reportedly then turned to Cohan and said, “She’s a grand old rag.” Cohan thought it was a great line and originally named his tune “You’re a Grand Old Rag.” So many groups and individuals objected to calling the flag a “rag,” however, that he “gave ’em what they wanted” and switched words, renaming the song “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

Mourners Remember Ronald Reagan One Year After His Death : News PhotoA four-year-old boy places a flag in the ground to commemorate President Ronald Reagan. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Olympics Day 2 - Swimming : News PhotoFormer President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, cheer on the U.S. swim team at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Chicago Hosts Celebrity Mickey Mouse Statues : News Photo

A statue designed by Paul Wenzel entitled “Mickey Celebrates our Freedom,” greets passersby on State Street in Chicago. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

OK, time to play along…and think.

Think great American.

Think great American celebrity.

Got one in mind?

Remember this week’s theme.

I think of…

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At the Grammy Awards in 1973 John Wayne was nominated:
Best Spoken Word Recording
America, Why I Love Her (Album), described as “a series of heartfelt, patriotic speeches over a bed of stirring music.”

Other nominees were:
Richard Harris – Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Billie Holliday – Songs and Conversations
John Wayne – America, Why I Love Her
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. – Slaughterhouse Five
Vincent Price – Witches, Ghosts and Goblins

Harris took  home the trophy.

395293 01: A worker holds up an American flag cake at Mangia bakery in front of police officers standing guard during Preside
A worker shows off an American flag cake at a bakery on Wall Street in New York. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Tommy Hilfiger Art Gallery Opening : News PhotoA Gibson guitar is on display at the Tommy Hilfiger store in Berlin. (Photo by Kurt Vinion/Getty Images)

Scenes From The American Embassy In Baghdad : News PhotoUncle Sam stands over an American flag cake at the U.S. Embassy dining hall in Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Not too long ago…

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Jennifer Pransky, a Fox Sports producer put together the following video using a 1974 recording to lead into the final half-hour before the Super Bowl game.

In Pransky’s film an African-American woman, Amitiyah Hyman, meets former Army special forces officer Nate Boyer.  Kirstie Ennis, a former Marine who lost a leg in a helicopter accident, is also in the video.  There are battlefield scenes and war memorials for World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

Sixty Thousand American Flags Set Up In Size And Shape Of Vietnam Veterans Memorial : News Photo
Sixty thousand American flags are placed in the ground as part of a Flag Day Memorial in Fairless Hills, Pa. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images) Hammon, left, and Hayden Gantt, salute the American Flag as it is raised up the flag pole in Veterans Park in Buffalo Grove Illinois, June 14, 2016. Both scouts are members of Troop 79, Boy Scouts of America. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Berogan

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

All of our selections have been about the flag or made a flag reference. We close with another and this one is a protest song. That’s right. This was a protest against protesters of the Vietnam War, recorded by Merle Haggard in 1969.

When I was in prison, I knew what it was like to have freedom taken away. Freedom is everything.

During Vietnam, there were all kinds of protests. Here were these [servicemen] going over there and dying for a cause — we don’t even know what it was really all about — and here are these young kids, that were free, b—hing about it. There’s something wrong with that and with [disparaging] those poor guys. We were in a wonderful time in America, and music was in a wonderful place. America was at its peak, and what the hell did these kids have to complain about?

These soldiers were giving up their freedom and lives to make sure others could stay free. I wrote the song to support those soldiers.
—Merle Haggard

When Haggard was on the road with his band they saw a highway sign that read, “Muskogee 19 miles.” A member of the band joked that residents of tiny Muskogee  probably didn’t smoke marijuana. A hit record was written in less than a half an hour.

The following night they sang it on stage, in the Fort Bragg, North Carolina officers club.

Haggard said, “Soldiers started comin’ after me on the stage and I didn’t know what was going to happen next until they took the mike and said we’d have to do it again before they’d let us go. I had never had this strong of a reaction before.” The band played the song four more times.

On November 15, 1969, the song went to number one on the country chart and stayed there for four weeks.

Here’s Haggard onstage with Asleep at the Wheel and a special guest.

Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear;
Beads and Roman sandals won’t be seen

Love it.

Raquel Welch in 1970’s Myra Breckinridge

Jessica Simpson on the cover of GQ in 2005

Goodnight everyone, and have a well-written weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Paul McCartney performed in Madison Thursday night at the Kohl Center.

Sir Paul plays Kohl Center

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From Madison’s

A Paul McCartney show is unlike any other show on the road. It’s fast-paced, but easy going. It’s uplifting, but down to earth. McCartney’s day job is being one of the most successful and influential musicians of all time, yet the man on stage is still very much an excited kid living out a rock n roll dream.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) his “Freshen Up” tour will be at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Sir Paul wrote and was the lead singer on the song “Yesterday.” According to ‘Guinness World Records’ this song was covered seven million times in the 20th century. Many, many, many Beatle recordings have been re-done, and for good reason. This week we’ll feature some McCartney remakes we hope you enjoy.

Let’s get started with an example that even the old folks appreciated the Beatles’ talent.

I’m happy to report that over the past year or so I’ve made it a point to learn more about swing band leader Count Basie. The jazz legend helped shape the big-band sound.

Basie played the vaudevillian circuit for a time in the mid-1920’s but then got stranded in Kansas City after his performance group disbanded. He managed to get a job playing piano at a theater to accompany silent movies. Because Basie was so good he soon left to in bands, including the Bennie Moten orchestra. That’s where Basie developed the Kansas City style of jazz.

Moten died unexpectedly in 1935 and Basie helped assemble a nine-piece band that played at a Kansas City club with some performances broadcast over an experimental short-wave radio station. The exposure resulted in national contract with Decca Records, Count Basie’s Orchestra grew to 13 musicians, and the band’s popularity soared.

In 1966 Basie recorded an entire album of Beatle hits. It’s only appropriate we play “Kansas City” that Paul did the lead vocal on. Basie’s version opens with his familiar piano riff.


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Music of the Beatles lends itself to many styles. Right about the time Beatlemania took over America another genre was exploding, grabbing the imagination of young and old. My dad would have loved this album.



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How about we jazz things up a bit.

This one’s from “Abbey Road,” performed by the Coltrane Quartet, with the sultry Karen Souza doing the vocal.

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Before we say goodnight for this week’s installment, in 2002 saxophonist Dave Koz got many of his fellow smooth jazz musicians together to record “Golden Slumbers: A Father’s Lullaby,” a collection of bedtime favorites. Koz’s version of “Golden Slumbers” from the “Abbey Road ” album is meant for the nursery.

“The credit really goes to my sister-in-law, Unique, who was having trouble getting my niece to sleep,” says Koz (Unique is the wife of Koz’s brother Jeff, who plays guitar on the CD). “She discovered that most of the lullaby recordings on the market were very lively and bright and seemed to stimulate the baby rather than soothe and relax her. Unique suggested that Jeff and I put together a few tracks that would create a more comforting, relaxing environment in the nursery.”
From left: Music producer Jeff Koz, Audrey’s Cookies Founder & CEO Roberta Koz Wilson (Jeff and Dave’s sister), and musician Dave Koz

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Paul McCartney turns 77 on June 18, less than two weeks away. That’s quite amazing since Paul died in the 60’s. Or so we were informed. In a car crash. Replaced by a double.

Radio stations fed America conspiracy theories fueled by a slew of clues from lyrics and album covers.

The real Paul met his doom in the early hours of November 9th, 1966, when his car skidded off an icy road and crashed into a pole. The other Beatles were said to be extremely concerned about their future without ‘The Cute One.” So they covered up his death with a lookalike, Billy Shears, who looked and sound liked like Paul.

Remember the first words to to “Got To Get You Into My Life?”

I was alone, I took a ride
I didn’t know what I would find there
Another road where maybe I
Could see another kind of mind there

We close with Dave Koz and the Summer Horns who toured and released an album in 2013 including their Beatle remake.

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Yes, that’s what you think it is.

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BTW, here is McCartney’s set list from Thursday night in Madison. It should be about the same in Green Bay Saturday.

And if you’re lucky enough to be going to Green Bay

Goodnight everyone, and have an anything but blue weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Over the past several weeks this feature has been rather nostalgic. And that’ s fine. When that happens we like to focus on music selections that are more contemporary. And because I like those oldies some interesting cover versions usually make the cut.

So enjoy these newer renditions of popular songs from the past.

Guitarist George Benson’s career is five decades long. As a solo artist he has racked up more than 30 recordings along with 10 Grammy Awards.

In his latest album Benson pays tribute to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.

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Another fine guitarist is Chris Standring. Born in Britain and now based in Los Angeles, Standring has been in the music business for the last 20 years. His latest album is “Sunlight.”

“Overall, ‘Sunlight’s got a joyful, upbeat vibe,” Standring said. ” I wanted to find some kind of word that described the overall feeling of the album, and thought ‘Sunlight’ captured the positivity and optimism of the music perfectly. It’s got an upbeat spirit about it. It probably wasn’t conscious, but maybe deep down I was being reactionary, calling out and taking a stand against the darkness of these times. For a lot of people, music can be a bright spot no matter what’s going on with them personally and in the world.

“The thing I like most about “Sunlight” is that it’s an album where you can just turn the musical faucet on and everything flows effortlessly and naturally.”

Watch this video with drummer Razz Lee. He’s all of 9 years old, the son of keyboard player Rodney Lee.

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Now we turn the clock back to 1968 and a song that sounded like this:

Many guys have come to you
With a line that wasn’t true
And you passed them by (passed them by)
Now you’re in the center ring
And their lines don’t mean a thing
Why don’t you let me try (let me try)
Now I don’t wear a diamond ring
I don’t even have a song to sing
All I know is
La la la la la la la la la means
I love you

The group was the Delfonics and that was their biggest hit peaking at #4.

It’s redone here by saxophonist Kenney Polson from Portland. Can you believe Polson has lived and performed in more than 50 countries?

Not surprisingly Polson comes from a musical family. His grandfather, “Chubby Wayne” Harshaw (Count Basie, Cab Calloway), was a major musical influence, along with his Uncle Charles, who sang with the Coasters.

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Herb Alpert is the Energizer Bunny. What a career! Five #1 hits. Nine GRAMMY® Awards. Fifteen Gold albums. Fourteen Platinum albums. Over 72 million records sold.

Now at 84 years old he’s cranked out another single, his cover of a #3 Bill Withers hit in 1971.

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We opened with a guitarist and we close with another.

Art Ruprecht had clips of tracks from his first album played on the Weather Channel during those “Local on the 8’s” forecasts. His music is now heard on stations across America and also streams live on Pandora and Music Choice, as well as most other music sites. From his 3rd album, released in March, a tribute to well-known jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery.


Goodnight, and have a Major weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

The world famous Glenn Miller Orchestra is performing tonight in the Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Milwaukee. Miller’s big band was a phenomenon during WWII.

From his website:

In 1942, at the height of Miller’s popularity he decided to quit life as a civilian and volunteered his services to the war effort. Although he was too old (age 38) to be drafted and was told they didn’t need his services, he finally found his niche as the leader of an Army band. He soon rose up through the ranks as Captain and entertained the Allied Forces.

Today, Glenn Miller’s legacy continues through his recordings and the huge impact he had with his orchestra and the distinctive sound he created.

This week as we begin Memorial Day weekend, interesting cover versions of some of Miller’s big hits.

Our opener really swings. It’s Miller’s first gold record.


When disco became a dominant pop music trend in the late ’70s, record producers all over the world began remaking classic music from other genres in a disco style to cash in on this craze. Most of these records were simply crass commercial exercises, but some of the projects in this vein managed to create inspired hybrids of classic melodies and disco rhythms. One of the best projects in this vein was Tuxedo Junction…a trio of female vocalists coo in an Andrew Sisters style over horn-laden big band arrangements that are bolstered by strong but unobtrusive disco rhythms.

In July of 1978 this single reached # 18 on the Adult Contemporary chart and # 32 on the Billboard Pop Hot 100.

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The ladies recorded two albums and their career fizzled out in 1979.

Infidelity was, let’s be honest, a serious symptom during the war. In a rather blunt post Anthropology Journal writes:

the results of taking the healthy male youth of America, putting them together in the locker-room environment of the Army, giving them good food, ample pocket money, fresh air and exercise after years of the Great Depression, and then sending them out into the world to kill or be killed are as unsurprising as they were unavoidable.  What they don’t tell you on The History Channel is that for all of its bloodshed, horror, bureaucracy, and grief, World War II was the biggest sexual spree in history.

As a GI handbook of 1943 said, “The type of woman who approaches you on the street in Italy and says ‘Please give me a cigarette’ isn’t looking for a smoke.”

So what was Grandma doing while Grandpa was off with the Italian girls? Probably the same thing: Only about half of the servicemen with wives and girlfriends polled in the 1945 study thought that their partners had been true to them.

For a lonely WWII soldier the only thing better than seeing Glenn Miller or hearing him on the radio was a letter from home.

One of Glenn Miller’s most famous songs was “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree(With Anyone Else But Me)” that he did with the Andrews Sisters. The piece was meant to be a promise between two separated lovers to be true. Miller recorded it in february of 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor.

Barry Manilow has produced a few tribute albums including one about the big bands. Here’s a nice version with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Debra Byrd doing the vocal.

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Glenn Miller’s theme song is now 80 years old and features that distinctive Miller sound,  a clarinet in the lead, backed by several saxophones playing in harmony.

Here’s just a sample of one of the prettiest melodies ever.

Brazilian pianist, composer, arranger, and record producer Eumir Deodato recorded one of the most unique renditions of “Moonlight Serenade” in 1974. More uptempo and jazzy, the extended album track is still reverential.

Of all the big bands that were famous, my parents’ favorite was clear. My wife, Jennifer and I took my mother to see the contemporary version of this orchestra at the Riverside. We had front row center seats and the bandleader at the time, Larry O’Brien would often look down at Mom and smile. Mom wasn’t the gregarious type but thought the “flirting,” however innocent, was nice. Tears of joy and sweet memories seemed to emerge with every number that night.

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In 1997 the wonderful vocal troupe the Manhattan Transfer did an entire album of swing music that included a great Glenn Miller tune from 1941 and the film “Sun Valley Serenade.” Listen to a lovely rendition complete with pedal steel guitar. And pay close attention to the lyrics. Are they not the greatest?

On December 15, 1944, Miller was scheduled to fly from London to Paris to make arrangements to prepare for a show. His band was to play for troops stationed in Paris and on “R&R” (rest and recreation) from their wartime duties. The plane took off in horrendous fog. Miller and the plane have never been found.

Maj. Glenn Miller earned the following awards: Bronze Star Medal, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, European, African and Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Marksman Badge with Carbine and Pistol Bars.

His Bronze Star Medal Citation reads:

“Major Alton Glenn Miller (Army Serial No. 0505273), Air Corps, United States Army, for meritorious service in connection with military operations as Commander of the Army Air Force Band (Special), from 9 July 1944 to 15 December 1944. Major Miller, through excellent judgment and professional skill, conspicuously blended the abilities of the outstanding musicians, comprising the group, into a harmonious orchestra whose noteworthy contribution to the morale of the armed forces has been little less than sensational. Major Miller constantly sought to increase the services rendered by his organization, and it was through him that the band was ordered to Paris to give this excellent entertainment to as many troops as possible. His superior accomplishments are highly commendable and reflect the highest credit upon himself and the armed forces of the United States.”

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Glenn Miller, not cool? Don’t tell that to Chicago.

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Goodnight everyone, and honor the troops this weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

On Saturday….

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Armed Forces Day is a day to pay tribute to the men and women who serve the United States Armed Forces.

President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.

This week, military music in the spotlight.

We get started with this CBS News report from earlier this year.

Before Miller joined the Army he was a music superstar. Under Miller’s direction, his original jazz orchestra  produced 70 top ten singles, and 22 number one records in just four years.

Then in 1942, Miller decided to quit his life as a civilian and volunteer his musical talents to the war effort by joining the Army Air Forces. Because of his age, 38, and his glasses, he knew that he would not be drafted, and therefore obtained a commission in the AAF on November 23, 1942. By March of 1943, Miller was commanding a group of musicians that consistently performed live and made recordings of their swing tunes for active servicemen across the country.

Here’s a portion of a radio broadcast of Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band from March of 1944.

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The Airmen of Note is the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. Created in 1950 to carry on the tradition of Glenn Miller’s dance band, the current band consists of 18 active duty Airmen musicians including one vocalist. As part of The U.S. Air Force Band, The Airmen of Note honors those who have served, inspires American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and positively impacts the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States.

The group recorded this popular Miller march.

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Next up, the U.S. Army Field Band that provides musical support to strengthen the ties between the Army and civilian populations at home and abroad. Since its formation in March 1946, the Field Band has appeared in all fifty states and in more than thirty countries on four continents.

In 1968, Chief Warrant Officer Three Charlie Almeida formed a new performing component of The U.S. Army Field Band, a jazz ensemble he named “The Studio Band.” Fifty years later, the band is known as the “Jazz Ambassadors” and its legacy of service is recognized around the world.

The Jazz Ambassadors is the United States Army’s premier big band and has received great acclaim both at home and abroad performing America’s original art form, jazz.

Here’s their rendition of a Count Basie original.

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Let’s stay with The United States Army Band  featuring their trumpet section along with  The U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps Trumpeters performing a familiar and fun Leroy Anderson composition at the 2012 National Trumpet Competition at George Mason University.

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Anyone who has ever played in a high school band has probably heard of composer John Philip Sousa. He was appointed leader of the U. S. Marine Band and held this position for 12 years, eventually molding the band into the finest military band in the world.

The 1952 film “Stars and Stripes Forever” is a musical biography of Sousa, who was played by Clifton Webb. Ruth Hussey portrayed Sousa’s wife. Here’s a clip.

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend, and by all means thank a member of our Armed Forces if your paths should cross.

We close with more Glenn Miller.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a selfless, loving weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

You do know what Sunday is. If you don’t, God have mercy on you.

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed Mother’s Day a national holiday. For Wilson, one of America’s worst presidents, it may have been the best and only accomplishment of his term. In his first Mother’s Day proclamation, Wilson stated that the holiday offered a chance to “publicly express our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

Mother’s Day spending is expected to total a record $25 billion this year, up from $23.1 billion in 2018, according to the annual survey released last month by the National Retail Federation. A total 84 percent of U.S. adults are expected to celebrate in honor of their mothers and other women in their lives.

As for me, I’ve got my own news bulletin for media nationwide: There is no way, none, no matter how we all try this weekend, to adequately, fully, appropriately repay Mom.

Our music theme this week? Obvious, right?

We begin with the greatest pop music band ever.

That video is from the seldom seen “Magical Mystery Tour.”

Needs some lyrics that I’m sure you’ll recognize.

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Before we move on, devout Beatles fans, you did notice something in the above, photo,  didn’t you?

Paul is wearing a black boutonniere. The other Beatles have red. Clearly it was one of the many clues during that time when there was a major controversy and plenty of gossip that Paul was dead.

Trust me. Without cable TV, the Internet, social media, etc., it was pretty exciting for some time. And then, what do you know, Paul was…alive.

Not nearly as quickly as today, society moved on to the next hot topic in pop culture. controversy. Paul was still a Beatle, but not for long. He became the first to leave the band.

Speaking of songs your mother should know, Mom was a fan of the big bands. Glenn Miller was a huge favorite. When albums were being released in the 80’s left and right that featured medleys of everything from classical to country, this compilation of the sweeter hits from the big band era was right up Mom’s alley.

The following is a medley of tunes once recorded by legendary pianist, arranger and composer George Shearing. Blind from birth, Shearing developed a reputation and popularity that was worldwide thanks to the distinctive “Shearing sound.” He utilized a block chord technique that blended his percussive piano with a vibraphonist and guitarist that formed the “front-line” in his quintet.

Now this is not your typical big band, swing kind of thing. Not even close. But it’s definitely big band dance hall material.

Please enjoy East Of The Sun, Roses Of Picardy, September In The Rain, I’ll Remember, For You, The Continental, On A Clear Day, Little White Lies, I’ll Be Around, and East Of The Sun (Reprise).

OMG, whoever wrote that would have had a heart attack when I was in high school and the band at the Friday night dance played “Stairway to Heaven.”

Next…did you see the recent Disney remake of “Dumbo”? You didn’t? That’s OK. You’re not alone. The movie was a bigger bust than Dolly Parton. But it had that one memorable, touching song.

From the soundtrack, a perfect track for this feature.

The musical group is Arcade Fire. The vocalist is Sharon Rooney who plays Miss Atlantis in the film.

“It’s a song that, even before I was cast in this movie, was quite special to me. My gran used to sing it to me when I was little, so I’ve always had quite an emotional connection on to this song,” said Rooney.

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Remember back in 2012 when Hilary Rosen, a Democratic operative touched off a Twitter storm after she went on CNN and said that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life.”? Mrs. Romney was a stay-at-home mom who also raised the couple’s five boys, and who has suffered from MS and breast cancer.  She responded, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

Ask any mom and they will immediately tell you that they don’t have it all that easy. Maria Valdez wrote in the Huffington Post that the most difficult job in the world is NOT a doctor.

“A mother goes through a lot of what a doctor does, the sleepless nights, the nights full of crying, the distress, and even more. They aren’t just in charge of one organ of their child, they oversee everything. The health, the well-being, the school, the values and morals, the respect the child has and so much more. One error and the child can go the wrong route.

“One is taught how to be a good doctor, how to clip that aneurysm or remove that tumor. Doctors have guidance.  Being a mother isn’t easy, it’s the hardest job in the world that comes with no instructions or manual whatsoever.”

So we move from the tearjerker Dumbo scene to this clip that is both humorous and  stark reality.

They say to have her hair done, Liz flies all the way to France
And Jackie’s seen in a Discotecque doin’ a brand new dance
And the White House social season should be glitterin’ an’ gay

But here in Topeka the rain is a fallin’
The faucet is a drippin’ and the kids are a bawlin’
One of ’em a toddlin’ and one is a crawlin’
And one’s on the way

I’m glad Raquel Welch just signed a million dollar pact
And Debbie’s out in Vegas workin’ up a brand new act
While the TV’s showin’ newlyweds, a real fun game to play

But here in Topeka, the screen door’s a bangin’
The coffee’s boilin’ over and the wash needs a hangin’
One wants a cookie and one wants a changin’
And one’s on the way

The girls in New York City, they all march for women’s lib
And better homes and garden shows, the modern way to live
And the pill may change the world tomorrow, but meanwhile, today

Here in Topeka, the flies are a buzzin’
The dog is a barkin’ and the floor needs a scrubbin’
One needs a spankin’ and one needs a huggin’
Lord, one’s on the way

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with this country duet from 1987.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a PARTY weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, falls on Sunday, May 5 this year. While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the David and Goliath-esque Battle of Puebla in 1862. Mexico had trouble paying back war debts to European countries, and France had come to Mexico to collect that debt. Despite being grossly outnumbered and outgunned, Mexico prevailed after several days of fighting.

“If you went to any bar tonight and said ‘What’s this day about?’, they would be clueless, and you can’t blame the alcohol consumption either,” said Carlos Tortolero, president of the National Museum of Mexican Art.

This week, music that goes beyond Mexico. Music with a Latin flair. Andale!

One of the most popular performers to hail from Mexico is guitarist, composer, singer and band-leader Carlos Santana. You probably have heard of him.

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But did you know he has a brother, Jorge Santana, who also plays the guitar. In the 70’s Jorge was a leader of the band Malo, based in San Francisco. We have that rousing opener we love from the group’s second album, an instrumental with a driving horn section and plenty of pulsating percussion. Just imagine Blood, Sweat & Tears, or Chicago, Latin-style.

Speaking of Carlos Santana, his career skyrocketed fifty years ago following his legendary performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969. The film “Woodstock” featured Santana’s appearance and he was on his way to stardom with a style that over the years has combined Latin, salsa, blues, rock, Afro-Cuban, jazz, fusion, and world beat music. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has sold more than 90 million records, and performed to over 100 million people around the world.

In 1999, three decades after Santana’s 1969 debut album, Supernatural  became Santana’s most successful work by far, selling more than 15 million copies and netting eight GRAMMYs and three Latin GRAMMYs. One of the tracks that won the GRAMMY for Record Of The Year for Santana is redone here by Puerto Rico native Nestor Torres on the flute.

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During the disco craze of the 1970’s the large ensemble called “The Salsoul Orchestra” was very popular, backing many artists like Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, Billy Paul, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls and the Stylistics, in addition to releasing their own solo recordings. And when we say large we mean it.  It was common for the orchestra to boast 50 members with as many as 18 violinists. Jazz vibraphonist and bandleader Vincent Montana, Jr. founded and led the orchestra. “Salsoul” referred to a combination of soul and salsa music.

“We were, first of all, good musicians, jazz musicians,” he said. “It would be so in-time and so beautiful, it was like a religious feeling.”

Montana believed that playing more than one violin at a time produces a variety of harmonies. “No two players play alike; no two instruments sound alike.”

In 1978 the album “The Salsoul Strings” came out and sounded just like the title. One of the tracks was a remake of a  Cuban rumba written between 1915 and 1917 with lyrics by Agustin Rodriguez and music by Gonzalo Roig. It was called “Quiereme Mucho” but later changed to the English “Yours.”

Big bands actually did fast-paced swing versions of what is essentially a love song. The Salsoul Strings’ lush arrangement is far more gentle. The lyrics, at the risk of sounding trite, are quite pretty and I’ve included them below. Listen for abundant strings and a haunting trumpet.

Yours till the stars lose their glory
Yours till the birds fail to sing
Yours to the end of life’s story
This pledge to you, dear, I bring

Yours in the grey of December
Here, or on far distant shores
I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you
How could I, when I was born to be just yours

This night has music, the sweetest music
It echoes somewhere within my heart
I hold you near me, so, darling, hear me
I have a message I must impart

Yours till the stars lose their glory,
Yours till the birds fail to sing
Yours to the end of life’s story
This pledge to you, dear, I bring

Yours in the grey of December
Here, or on far distant shores
I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you
How could I when I was born to be just yours
Just yours
When I was born to be just yours

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Montana died in 2013.

Next up, saxophonist Ed Calle, recognized for his ability to play Latin and contemporary jazz, and pop. Born in Caracas of Spanish parents, today Calle can be heard on hundreds of recordings both as a sideman and soloist. He appears on Grammy-award-winning albums by Frank Sinatra, Vicky Carr, Arturo Sandoval, and Jon Secada, as well as on numerous television and motion picture soundtracks. He is one of Miami’s best known musicians.

From Calle’s 1995 album “Double Talk” this one really sizzles.

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a celebratory weekend!

Take it away, Wolfman Jack!

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AND, ICYMI last week, here’s our Kentucky Derby musical blog.

Goodnight everyone, and have a weekend of great joy!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

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The Easter story is often called the “greatest story ever told”. It is a fascinating tale of betrayal, murder, miracles and life after death. It is the story of a Messiah, a Christ who is the “Son of Man.” Yet Jesus the Messiah makes claims that cause his followers to doubt him, then turn against him in rage.

This is the story of the miracle that ensues, and has stood the test of time. It is a story that intrigues believers and non-believers alike.

Although death by crucifixion is a common practice in Roman times, Jesus’ ordeal is particularly cruel. He endures the customary beating, and then must carry his own cross. He falls from the heavy weight, and another man must carry the load for him. Jesus hangs from the cross by spikes driven through his hands and feet, receives vinegar to quench his thirst and suffers a horrible death. Following the crucifixion, his body is placed in a guarded tomb but he rises from the dead 3 days later. 

This week, the music of Easter.

Before we start with our rousing opener, an Easter memory. Seems that a television tradition around Holy Week many years ago that carried on for many years was the network presentations of holy movies.

One of them was Ben-Hur starring Charleton Heston as a Jew (Judah) battling the Roman empire at the time of Christ. His actions send him and his family into slavery. Chained to a group of criminals, Judah is marched through the desert. They pass though the village of Nazareth and stop for a water break.

Later, when Jesus is  sent through the streets on his way to be crucified…

In 1870, French architect Charles Rohault de Fleury determined Jesus’ cross weighed 165 pounds, was three or four meters high, with a cross beam two meters wide.

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One of cinema’s most famous sequences was the movie’s nine-minute chariot race. That scene alone took five weeks (spread over three months) to film at a total cost of $1 million and required more than 200 miles of racing to complete. Seven thousand extras were hired to cheer in the stands. As filming in Italy progressed only 1,500 extras were needed on any given day. On June 6, 1958, more than 3,000 people seeking work were turned away. The crowd rioted, throwing stones and assaulting the set’s gates until police arrived and dispersed them.

We begin with Andre Rieu and his orchestra along with his own very large set of over 500 brass players performing from the film’s score in Amsterdam.

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Ben Hur behind the scenes 1959

Charlton Heston

Ben-Hur was nominated for twelve Academy Awards and won an unprecedented eleven including Best Picture.

Easter Sunday is the biggest day of the year for churches. According to a 2018 National Retail Federation study about half of Americans planned to go to church on that year’s Easter.

Christian music songwriter and impresario Bill Gaither has given great exposure to Southern gospel artists for the past few decades, especially on public television. Those appearances led to concerts and video sales.

My guess is that this will shake church roofs across America this Sunday.

The Gaither Vocal Group answers the musical question, “Have you been redeemed?”

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In the above video did you notice the silver-haired gent with the cookie duster mustache cupping his ear with his hand, microphone in the other pressed right up against his mouth?

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That’s deep-voiced J.D. Sumner who wrote “The Old Country Church.” He was part of Elvis’ backup singers for many years right up until the King died.

Speaking of Elvis, the King’s only Grammy Awards came for his spiritual recordings. In fact his favorite music was gospel and he had career aspirations of someday singing professionally in a gospel choir.

“Gospel was one of the most important elements in his musical identity,” said Charles Hughes, director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College. “Throughout his career he kept returning to gospel. Singing gospel songs, recording gospel records and incorporating in his live shows performance techniques that he would have gotten from the church.”

Gladys Presley once told a reporter, “When Elvis was just a little fellow, he would slide off my lap, run down the aisle, and scramble up to the platform of the church. He would stand looking up at the choir and try to sing with them. He was too little to know the words, but he could carry the tune.”

“Since I was two years old, all I knew was gospel music,” said Elvis. “It became such a part of my life, it was as natural as dancing. A way to escape my problems, and my way of release.”

In 1972 Elvis released the gospel album He Touched Me that included “Amazing Grace.”

Three years ago The Wonder Of You: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was released worldwide that presented the iconic artist’s unmistakable voice and most dramatic original performances augmented with lush new orchestral accompaniment. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, the 14-track album features Elvis’ most dramatic original performances augmented with arrangements by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The album was a follow-up to a similar effort the year before, If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Legend has it that this next song was written in 1772 by John Newton, a former slave trader who had a religious conversion and became an abolitionist activist.

Elvis Presley recording at RCA Victor Studio in New York City in July 1956.

Elvis takes care of serious business.

Another classic was written by Cleavant Derricks, an African American pastor who once served a church in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Performing in our next video is an ensemble formed by a businessman who plucked stars from various gospel groups to form “Perfect Heart.” J.D. Sumner jokingly called them “The Million Dollar Quartet.”

Garry Sheppard opens by mentioning one of his talents.

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Who says Christians don’t have a sense of humor?

Perfect Heart is no longer together.

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great Easter weekend!

In the late 1960’s Edwin Hawkins was studying interior design in Oakland, California. At the same time he and a friend were working with a youth choir that released a local album. The group had hopes of selling enough copies to fund a trip to Southern California to participate in a Gospel competition.

The album was anything but state of the art, recorded on a friend’s small two-track machine according to Hawkins. There were no thoughts of going commercial.

One of the tracks caught the attention of a disc jockey at the Bay Area FM station KSAN, Abe Kesh.

As Kesh continued to play “Oh Happy Day” on the air it became more and more popular. The single sold seven million copies and won a Grammy for best soul gospel performance.

Legendary jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis covered “Oh Happy Day” in a 2005 album, “With One Voice.”

The live album was recorded at the J.W. James Memorial A.M.E. Church in Maywood, Illinois, where the Rev. Lucille L. Jackson, Ramsey Lewis’ sister was the the co-pastor. She passed away in 2013.

More than 50 members of the J.W. James Memorial A.M.E. Church Combined Choir are featured on the album, including “Oh Happy Day.”

“That’s one of my favorites,” said Lewis. “When that record came out, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, I probably wore out–it was on an LP, of course, so I probably wore out two or three of those, and I always wanted to play it, even in person, but I couldn’t come up with a way to do it without the voices. And so now we have this version, of course, with my church choir, that is the church I belong to.”

We’ve posted this a few times in the past and it’s especially perfect this time of year…

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Goodnight everyone, and have a swingin’ weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Buckle up for a healthy dose of hip.

One of the world’s greatest living guitarists turned 60 this week. In 1979 Brian Setzer, drummer Jimmy McDonnell (a.k.a. Slim Jim Phantom), and upright double bass player Lee Rocker formed the rockabilly trio the Stray Cats.

“Forty years ago, us three teenagers started a little band to play a musical style that had long since passed and most folks had never heard of,” said Setzer.

That song is from 1981 before the band broke up in 1984. The Stray Cats reunited in 1986, but eventually split up again in the early 90s. Setzer then decided to resurrect another genre: swing as he fronted a multi-piece ensemble that continues performing today.

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This week get ready to have your socks blown off by the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

We always like to start with a rousing opener if we can so let’s begin with this rendition that won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance Duo/Group.

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Our next tune dates all the way back to 1928, written and sung then by Al Jolson who was a huge star at the time. That wouldn’t be the case today since Jolson often performed in blackface.

This is a great song, from the orchestra’s first album in 1994.

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Time for a breather. Time to slow it down.

In 2009 Setzer and the Orchestra released their eighth studio album. “Songs From Lonely Avenue” was described in one review as a “soundtrack to an unwritten film, an album equally inspired by ’50s film noirs, R&B, and rock & roll, a conceptual stroll through smoky clubs and dimly lit back alleys.”

For the very first time Setzer turned in his first collection of all-original material.

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The cool continues.

More than occasionally we include an Elvis tie-in. Already done in this segment with a reference to Setzer’s early career tribute to rockabilly. The King’s influence is clear.

We have more.

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Next month marks the 55th anniversary of the release of “Viva Las Vegas.”

Race car driver Lucky Jackson (Elvis) wants to compete in the Las Vegas Grand Prix. But his engine goes bad. So he gets a job and meets part-time lifeguard/singer/dancer Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret). The couple flirts, fights, dances and sings. Their chemistry is electrifying.

Some dialogue from the movie:

Lucky Jackson: “Look Rusty, I thought maybe you and I could go dancing or something.”
Rusty Martin: “So you wanna go dancing?”
Lucky Jackson: “Or something.”

The two stars recorded a duet that eventually was cut from the film,  but released for the first time in 1991.

As you listen to Setzer sing with Gwen Stefani I’m sure you’ll recognize what a perfect number this was for Lucky and Rusty.

A reviewer in 2009 had this to say:

Brian Setzer doesn’t want your money. That’s the only possible explanation for all the banjo-plucking, yodeling, classical noodling and other activities guaranteed to keep his songs off the radio, not to mention most other places where people find music these days.

Setzer could have disappeared into the sunset after the Stray Cats went to that great feline rescue center in the sky, but he succeeded against all odds with his Brian Setzer Orchestra

Here’s a perfect example. Two years prior to that article Setzer and the band did a complete album of their takes on classical music pieces. In an appearance on the NBC Today Show Setzer said classical composers were anything but stuffy, calling them the rock stars of their time hundreds of years ago.

“Wolfgang’s Big Night Out” features Setzer blaring out versions of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight Of The Bumblebee,” Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” Wagner’s “Lohengrin” and Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”

The album’s title track is based on Mozart’s familiar “Eine Kleine Nachtmusic.”

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Incidentally the album’s arranger is Frank Comstock who composed the theme to Rocky and Bullwinkle’s cartoon show.

The Stray Cats will mark their 40th anniversary in 2019 with a new album and tour. Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom, original founding members of the acclaimed American rock and roll trio, are heading into a studio in Nashville to record their first new album in 25 years.

The band will head out on tour this summer, playing concerts and festivals in the U.K. and Europe through June and July, with a nine-date U.S. run following that in August.

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a glorious spring weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

Spring has official sprung, though it may not feel like it. Around these parts Lake Michigan acts as a built-in air conditioner. To enjoy a true spring you need to move west.

In Milwaukee this weekend the highs will be about 58. Eighty miles away in Madison the highs on Saturday and Sunday jump to 68.

Still it is a new season, and there’s music for it. This week, the sounds of spring.

Let’s get started with  the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. Created in 1950 to carry on the tradition of Glenn Miller’s dance band , The Airmen of Note has since adopted a more contemporary style.

Here the band performs pianist Count Basie’s version of a jazz standard that dates back to 1932.

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Speaking of…

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My wife, Jennifer, wants to go in the worst way.

I don’t know.

Maybe, ultimately, the Chairman of the Board has it right.

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Sounded so nice had to do it twice.

Sinatra and most of the other great crooners…they’re all gone. Who’s left? Tony  Bennett. Steve Lawrence. Can’t think of anyone else.

One of them made a series of commercials promoting NCAA  basketball in the 1980’s, and we all know March Madness is extremely popular come springtime.

The 1960 theater musical Camelot tells of the legend of King Arthur (Richard Burton) and his Knights of the Round Table. The play opens with the arrival of Guenevere (Julie Andrews) in Camelot who has come to marry Arthur. Later, in a jousting match Lancelot handily defeats three knights, to the growing admiration of Guenevere. Lancelot meanwhile has fallen in love with the Queen. After leaving the country for two years Lancelot returns, is knighted, and reveals in song his true feelings to Guenevere about her.

Robert Goulet gained instant stardom with what would become his signature song.

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Before May flowers we’ve got to have April showers.

Lots of songs about spring. Probably more that mention rain. And a gazillion times more where the subject is a springtime event…love.

This was a 1965 hit by The Toys that peaked at #2. It couldn’t crack the top spot because of some guys called The Beatles” and “The Rolling Stones.”

See if you like this version.

From their 1966 album…

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

And if the weather does cooperate this weekend, enjoy because this is no spring fever love note from the Weather Channel.

Oh well.

There’s always room for some 1985 optimism.

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