Music, My life

Music for a healthy high school love: Three Dog Night’s I’d Be So Happy

My second girlfriend was and is a totally admirable person. We dated our senior year in high school. It was a great relationship; no conflict, no weirdness, healthy boundaries, a lot of fun. We were involved in everything: softball, volleyball, yearbook, drama club. She and my best friend Murray were on student council. I edited the school paper. I remember lying in bed one night listening to this song and marveling at my good fortune.

As high school drew to a close, it was clear that we weren’t really made for each other. We didn’t so much break up as head our separate ways after graduation. I went to the University of Kansas. She attended a Christian university where she majored in PE and played varsity volleyball. She met and married another volleyball jock. Together they have raised a beautiful family and had a life of ministry.

The song stirs feelings of gratitude for that senior-year relationship. I feel a bit of nostalgia for the best year of my youth, but no wistfulness for what might have been. Thank you, Kathy. Blessings to you.

Once in a while I could look at you
See the twinkle in your eyes
With not a word between us
See you smilin’ ’cause you read my mind

Once in a while I could hold you
Not have to say a thing
Though I was giving you all my love
Just by what you were feeling

Oh, I’d be so happy
Happier, happier than I’ve been
Oh, I’d be so happy
Happier, happier than I’ve been

Once in a while I could wake up
Find you lyin’ there touchin’ me, oh, my little girl
Once in a while I could wake up
Find you lyin’ there touchin’ me

Once in a while twenty years from now
After all that we’ve been through
I could tell you by one caress
That it’s been good bein’ loved by you

Oh, I’d be so happy
Happier, happier than I’ve been
Oh, I’d be so happy
Happier, happier than I’ve been

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Music, My life

Music for a first breakup: Late 1960s Bee Gees

My first girlfriend in high school was a cute Asian-Canadian girl named Janet, and when she broke up with me one Sunday night after church, I staggered home and spent the next several days listening my roommate’s ancient Bee Gees album. It was loaded with wonderfully lugubrious songs like I Started A Joke:

I started a joke which started the whole world laughing
Oh, but I didn’t see that the joke was on me…

I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You, about a man condemned to die, was on the same album. ‘Robin Gibb, who wrote the lyrics, said that the man’s crime was the murder of his wife’s lover, though the lyrics do not explicitly allude to the latter premise (although there is a verse “Well I did it to him, now it’s my turn to die”).’

The preacher talked to me and he smiled
Said, “Come and walk with me, come and walk one more mile.
Now for once in your life you’re alone.
But you ain’t got a dime, there’s no time for the phone.”
I’ve just got to get a message to you
Hold on, hold on
One more hour and my life will be through
Hold on, hold on…

The song First of May, while sappy, is actually quite beautiful. Here is the original. You can also find it sung by Sarah Brightman, Lulu, and others.

When I was small, and Christmas trees were tall,
we used to love while others used to play.
Don’t ask me why, but time has passed us by,
some one else moved in from far away.

Now we are tall, and Christmas trees are small,
and you don’t ask the time of day.
But you and I, our love will never die,
but guess we’ll cry come first of May.

The apple tree that grew for you and me,
I watched the apples falling one by one.
And I recall the moment of them all,
the day I kissed your cheek and you were mine.

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Music, My life

Music to get you through chicken pox: Abba’s Fernando


Nobody ever accused me of highbrow or hardcore music tastes.

I came down with chicken pox the day before Christmas vacation ended, during my senior year in high school. Except for the fever and all the blisters and another week away from my erstwhile girlfriend, it wasn’t that unpleasant. In January of 1977, the Abba song Fernando was still on the radio a couple of times a week in Medellín, and I found it quite captivating. It even inspired to write a story as I lay in bed, featuring myself and my best friends as guerrillas. The story went the way of the lousy poetry I wrote in my adolescence, but I still enjoy the song.

In my extensive research for this post, I found that Fernando was originally written in Swedish, with really lame lyrics. As wikipedia reports: the narrator tries to console the heartbroken Fernando, who has lost his great love. “The sorrow can be hard to bear, but the fact that friends let us down is something we all have to cope with”. The chorus’ lyrics are: “Long live love, our best friend, Fernando. Raise your glass and propose a toast to it, to love, Fernando. Play the melody and sing a song of happiness. Long live love, Fernando”.

I much prefer the English lyrics. Here they are, followed by a video of the Spanish version, which came out in 1980.

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?
I remember long ago another starry night like this
In the firelight, Fernando
You were humming to yourself and softly strumming your guitar
I could hear the distant drums
And sounds of bugle calls were coming from afar
They were closer now, Fernando
Every hour, every minute seemed to last eternally
I was so afraid, Fernando
We were young and full of life and none of us prepared to die
And I’m not ashamed to say
The roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando
Now we’re old and grey, Fernando
And since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand
Can you hear the drums, Fernando?
Do you still recall the fateful night we crossed the Rio Grande?
I can see it in your eyes
How proud you were to fight for freedom in this land
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando
Yes, if I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando…

The Spanish lyrics are an excellent translation of the English. You can find them here.

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Colombia, Food, My life

Colombian soul food

The epitome of soul food for me is the bandeja paisa, a massive sampler plate served in Medellín and the surrounding area. It usually includes rice, beans, powdered beef, chicharrón (pork rinds), fried plantains (pictured are both patacones and maduros, green and ripe plantains respectively), and salad. The crowning touch is a fried egg on the rice. In January, our hosts prepared us a bandeja paisa as our farewell meal. They went all out, including avocado and chorizo and serving my favorite drink, maracuyá (passion fruit) juice. It was more food than I could eat at one time.

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Hogao is a cooked salsa made of tomato and onion. We ate it on the patacones. The salad is a cabbage salad, but is not much like cole slaw.

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For some reason, the meal usually includes ground cooked beef, a sort of powdery consistency.

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My life

Fascinating old aerodynamic car

I saw this relic parked in the Home Depot parking lot, and figured it was on its way to a shop somewhere.
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It took a while to find it online. I was sidetracked by the Schloerwagen and the Dymaxion, and then I found what is probably the very car I saw, here! It’s a 1937 Gougeon Streamliner. Here’s one of many pictures found online:

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Colombia, Music, My life

Publicizing my celebrity wife

My wife has been in the throes of submitting a concert proposal to the office of the Mayor of Medellín for this year’s Cultural Calendar. The application process is arduous, and we probably won’t meet tomorrow’s deadline. We’ve been scrambling to fulfill some of the requirements. There’s a section that asks about presence in social media and contact with fan base. Alicia has jealously protected her privacy, but now she’s recognizing that if she wants to reactivate her music career, she needs to be visible. So I have created a Facebook page for her, and we have uploaded recordings from her records to Youtube.

Youtube has been a pain in the neck. For some reason, Alicia appears with two different profiles under the same login. The older one features only a handful of songs uploaded by a former work-study assistant at the university where she taught. The new one displays twenty songs and has nice graphics on the banner. So if you search for Alicia Isabel Santacruz on Youtube, don’t select the entry at the top of the list with five songs, scroll down and look for the one exhibiting this nice picture. Or just click through on the link I’ve provided with her name.

Alicia

On Facebook, we created a profile for her and immediately were deluged with Friend requests. She doesn’t really want to deal with that level of interaction, so I also created a Page for her. As soon as I did so, Facebook locked us out and insisted we submit a scan of her ID. I uploaded one as requested. Then they e-mailed her and asked for it again, so we e-mailed it. After a while, we were able to sign back in. I had never heard of Facebook doing that sort of thing, but I’m glad they’re concerned about protecting her. If you want to follow her on Facebook, we would prefer that you look for her Musician/Band page rather than her personal one. You might have to click through from her personal page if the search doesn’t take you there directly. This link might work: Alicia Isabel Santacruz.

In her early years as a performer, Alicia entered and won all the major music festivals in Colombia. She became known as Colombia’s best new female vocalist. She sang at inaugurations for mayors, governors, and presidents. She represented Colombia at a huge international music festival, sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in Spanish music. Her song El Chambú is featured on a collection titled Las Cien Canciones Más Bellas de Colombia (Colombia’s 100 Most Beautiful Songs).

In the late 1980s she scaled down her music career in order to live a more normal life. She got a second degree, took a position as a university professor, married, and raised a son, still performing from time to time and recording a handful of albums. Now that she has retired from the university and is ready to step back into performing, the world has  changed. Colombia’s record companies were driven out of business by the bootleggers, so musicians either record independently or work with US based studios. She has several self-financed recording projects in the works, including two children’s albums, original compositions, and a collection of love songs that we selected while we were dating.

There are still many people who remember her, and a generation that deserves the privilege of new acquaintance.  I want to see my wife doing what she loves most to do.

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Creative writiing, Food, Music

A jazz song (my own)

I composed this several years ago when I was writing a story about a musical group. I’ve always been proud of it. It rises from my conviction that healthy relationships are fairly uncomplicated and that common sense is an important component.

One of these days I need to finish writing the tune.

A flaky southern biscuit
A big smear of cream cheese
Some nice crisp bacon
and some OJ, please
Let’s go out on the porch
and work this thing through
about you and me, me and you
Will we be one and one or two

No one should talk about love on an empty stomach
No one should talk about love on an empty stomach

A cocktail is nice
with or without ice
but you got to have food
or your thinking’s not so good
Your stomach is your friend
You should feed it now and then
It’s hard to listen or smile
if it’s grumbling all the while

I say no one should talk about love on an empty stomach.
No one should talk about love on an empty stomach

Da-da-da, da-da-da, da da da da da da
Da-da-da, da-da-da, da da da da da da

Steak tartare
A wine-poached pear
Prime beef medium rare
maybe a chocolate eclair
and then let’s go out there
sort out this love affair

Da-da-da, da-da-da, da da da da da da
Da-da-da, da-da-da, da da da da da da

No one should talk about love on an empty stomach
No one should talk about love on an empty stomach
No one should talk about love on an empty stomach
No one should talk about love on an empty stomach

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