Was that an angel?

Homeless-Man_DogAs summer approaches, we begin to see more homeless people on the streets, some looking for a handout, others just trying to survive. It’s easy to look past these individuals as though they didn’t exist, but they do. They are someone’s brother, sister, mother, father, grandparent, grandchild, cousin, or friend. They were born into this world of opportunity, but something happened on the road to the American dream.

I was inspired to write this blog after reading a story online from radio consultant Doug Erickson. doug-ericksonDoug’s story touched me to such a degree, that I felt it necessary, with his permission, to share his story with you through this blog. I will follow Doug’s story with a few links to songs and videos to accentuate the premise of the topic of homelessness and unexpected angels.

Not Him, Not Now

Bargaining with God
“You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are.”
It was after normal office hours but the doctor had met us anyway.
After only a couple of minutes examining him, he told us to head straight to Children’s Hospital, that he would meet us there.
I still remember it, the fear. I can feel it even now.
Fear so huge it made conversation impossible, and so we sat silent, Shannon and I, holding hands, as we drove to the hospital.
Each of us quietly praying, bargaining with God.
Take me, not him.
Please!
Not him.
He’s not even two. He’s done nothing wrong. He’s got an entire life ahead of him.
Please, please, God, not him. Not now.
And then we were there, at the ER. And I was helping her take him out of his car seat to walk inside, not wanting the certainty of the diagnosis, the pokes, the pain, the reality of this life.
I stepped back. I had to park the car. And that’s when he approached.
I hadn’t seen him before. I’m not certain he was there, honestly, but our eyes met.
I saw his pain, and he saw mine.
I muttered, “I don’t have anything to share right now. My little boy is really sick. I’m sorry.” I wanted to brush him off, move him back. I didn’t want to think about him.
And he said, “God bless you.” I think. I think that’s what he said. It was hard to hear him.
He offered his hand, which I didn’t take. He was close enough to smell. He was dirty, unwashed.
I was frantic, anxious, impatient, unwilling to look, to understand what was happening.
And he said, again, “God bless you. He’ll be okay. Your little boy. You’ll all be okay.”
And he walked off into the darkness away from me.
I’ve searched the face of every homeless man I’ve seen every day since, in every city I visit, hoping to see his, trying to understand what he was, who he was.
And Hebrews 13:2 seeps often into my thoughts, something about entertaining angels unawares.
30 years later, I’m still so ashamed of myself.
He is the reason I always have a dollar or two for anyone who asks, those nameless guys at stop lights.
There’s an image in a Bonnie Raitt song that I love: “If you listen you can hear the angel’s wings, up above our heads so near they are hovering…”
I think compassion and kindness surround us, dressed in unexpected ways, offered from what we consider an unlikely source.
And so we miss it. We let it fly by while we gaze at our iPhones.
Yet the need surrounds us too. We avoid it. We don’t want to see it, as if by denial it will cease.
It’s not just a need for money. It’s a need for humanity, for one simple act of caring, even if only briefly, for another.
The simplest acknowledgment that reveals our connection to the divine.
As the headline screams, U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High, we focus our attention on our Facebook page, turn off our big-screen HD plasma TV, close and lock our doors, worry about our investments, and pop an Ambien to help us sleep.
I believe the life you live outside your studio, outside your station, fuels the life you live inside it.
What I’ve shared today is meant to remind you whence you come.
It’s meant to confront a truth: that if you need an angel today, they are closer than you may think.
And another: that you may be the angel someone needs today
Much is not within your power, but this is.
This is.
And that’s a miracle.

Doug Erickson is the President of Erickson Media Consultants 

Bobby-WomackLast June (2015), we lost a soul legend. Bobby Womack, who had the nickname “The Preacher” died at 70. He had a career that spanned seven decades. Although he only had four songs hit the Top 40, one tune touched on the issue of homelessness with such vision in the lyrics, that you can close your eyes and see “Harry Hippie“.

Harry Hippie stayed on the charts for six weeks in 1973 and only peaked at number 31, but it sold enough records to be classified as a “Gold” single, selling 500,000 copies.

Hoyt AxtonAnother song I want to highlight is an album cut from Steppenwolf that never reached the Top 40, called “Snowblind Friend“, a song written by folk music singer-songwriter Hoyt Axton.

With today’s heroin epidemic, take a few minutes to the listen to the lyrics of Snowblind Friend and think about the consequences of addiction that touches every cultural, economic and demographic level of society today.

make-them-visible
Here’s a link to a powerful video by the “Make Them Visible Foundation” that reflects on how the homeless today are invisible, as we go about our day-to-day activities in life, too busy to see them.

free hugsAnd finally, one of my favorite videos on the Internet that shows the value of a simple “hug”! Here’s a link to the “Free Hugs Campaign“.

Smile more, enjoy the life God has given you, reach out your hand and try to make a new friend today.

Please check out my Internet Radio Station, “Pet Guardians Radio“, and tell your friends to listen too!
Pet Guardians Radio Card

Happy Retirement Bev!

I haven’t written a blog in several months, but this blog is a tribute to the men and women who serve the public every day, following the motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Yes, we are talking about employees of the United States Post Office. But this blog is dedicated to one very special person, Bev Hughes, who will be retiring from the Thomasville Post Office in York County on Friday, April 1, 2016 after nearly 38 years of employment in the postal industry!

DSC_0091Bev has her very own story of Hollywood coming to the little town of Thomasville, and the evidence is on the wall of the post office…but not for long!

In the 1990’s, Eddie Albert, actor and activist, but primarily remembered by me and many others as Oliver Wendell Douglas on the television series Green Acres that aired originally on CBS from 1965 to 1971 started showing up in York County.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Bev about how Eddie Albert was connected to Thomasville and in particular, the Thomasville Post Office.

EddieAlbertBriefly recapping the story, Eddie was on a P.T. boat in the Pacific during WWII when he took the initiative to rescue 47 U.S. Marines, and carried them back to a nearby destroyer for safety. He was never officially recognized by the U.S. government for his heroism until a friend of his, George Thomas (from Thomasville) went through the Navy to find Eddie and had him presented with a medal for his bravery during the war. Bev said the medal was given to Eddie in a ceremony at the VFW in East Berlin during the 1990’s.

As a result of their friendship, Eddie would occasionally visit George in Thomasville, stopping by the post office, Bev’s church, and walking the back roads near George’s house, saying hello to neighbors…who never recognized him!

Bev had her picture taken with Eddie, but after one particular meeting in June 1997, upon returning to his home in California, Eddie sent a personally autographed picture back to the post office in Thomasville where it has been proudly displayed on the wall by the customer service counter since its arrival nearly 19 years ago.DSC_0097

However, that’s about to change. When Bev retires on April 1st, the autographed picture of Eddie Albert goes with her. Bev has served as sales and service associate (window clerk), and on several occasions, acting Post Master for the facility in Thomasville since her career with the government began in 1978. Out of all those working at the post office when the photo arrived, Bev is the only one still working there…at least for another week.

If you have the time, please stop by to see Bev Hughes the morning of Friday, April 1st between 8:00 AM and 12:00 Noon to wish her well in retirement, and if you can’t make it, please send her a card. Address it to:

Thomasville Post Office
c/o:  Bev Hughes
5285 Lincoln Hwy W.
Thomasville, PA  17364

Now, since this is a “music” blog, in tribute to Bev, here are a few post office/letter-related songs….

GreenAcresIn memory of Eddie Albert, let’s start out with the opening theme song to the television show, “Green Acres”.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

 

 

MarvelettesThe Marvelettes – “Please Mr. Postman”
This was their first hit record in 1961 and shot all the way to #1 on the charts.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

 

 

TheCarpentersThe Carpenters also had their version of “Please Mr. Postman” which also topped the charts in 1975.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

 

 

 

Both The Box Tops (1967 #1) and Joe Cocker (1970 #7) had hits with “The Letter”.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)
BoxTops-TheLetter

JoeCocker

 

 

 

 

 

ElvisReturnStamp
Who can forget the King of Rock and Roll? Elvis hit #2 in 1962 with “Return to Sender”, featured in the film “Girls, Girls, Girls”.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

StevieWonderStevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” peaked at #3 in 1970.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

 

 

BrothersJohnsonIn 1977 The Brothers Johnson took “Strawberry Letter 23″ to #5 on the music charts. According to the story I read, singer/songwriter Shuggie Otis was so moved by a girlfriend’s strawberry-scented paper that he wrote this song.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

RBGreavesRonald Bertram (R.B.) Greaves was the nephew of the legendary Sam Cooke. Although R.B. Greaves  only had two records hit the Top 40, “Take a Letter Maria” went all the way to #2 in 1969. The song was kept out of the top spot by “Wedding Bell Blues” by The 5th Dimension, which held onto #1 for three weeks in a row.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

 

allan_shermanIn 1963 Allan Sherman came up with a novelty song about a kid’s letter home from summer camp called “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)” The song climbed the charts to #2 before it stalled out and held the second spot for 3 weeks. The melody was adopted from Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours”.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

BradPaisleyA country tribute to letter writing came along in 2007 when Brad Paisley recorded “Letter to Me”. In this song Paisley is imagining he is writing a letter to his 17-year-old self.
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

FatsWallerNow let’s go way back to 1935 for the Fats Waller version of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”
(Click on the picture to link to the tune.)

 
And finally, going full circle back to where we started, I think it’s interesting that Eddie Albert was born on April 22, 1906, and ironically, he participated in the creation of Earth Day and spoke at its inaugural ceremony on his birthday, April 22, 1970. Let’s do something in honor of Eddie Albert on his birthday this year to help sustain this beautiful planet we live on.

(Click on the picture to link to the Earth Day website.)
EarthDay

I will wrap up this blog with something special for Bev Hughes and her retirement from the Thomasville Post Office. Here’s a video clip from one of my favorite and most influential television personalities.
(Click on the picture to link to the video.)
RogersMcFeely

 

 

 

 

 

Bev, always remember this: 1 – 4 – 3.

 

Glen Campbell’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease

GlenCampbell1It’s no secret that I love music, in nearly every format and genre. My personal favorite songs change like the wind, depending on my mood, what I’m doing, and who I’m with.
A musician who has touched my life since childhood is Glen Campbell.
Born April 22, 1936 in Billstown, Arkansas, his talents go far beyond that of a country music singer. Glen is also an incredible guitarist, songwriter, television host, and actor.

GlenCampbell2

Gentle On My Mind

Glen Campbell was the seventh son of 12 children. He moved to Los Angeles in 1960 to become a session musician, becoming part of a group of studio musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, playing on recordings by Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan & Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Phil Spector.

GlenCampbell4

By The Time I Get To Phoenix

For a brief time in late 1964/early 1965, Campbell was a touring member of the Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson. He also played guitar on their Pet Sounds album.

GlenCampbell3Dreams of the Everyday Housewife

I remember watching the television show Petticoat Junction in 1969 when Steve (Mike Minor) sang to his wife, Bobbie Jo (Lori Saunders). The song was “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife”. (Trivia:  Glen Campbell was pictured on the song sheet that Bobbie Jo left on the piano for Steve.) I really liked the song, but that’s the first time I ever heard it, not realizing it was a hit for Campbell in the summer of 1968.

GlenCampbell5Wichita Lineman

Glen hosted a summer replacement TV show for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1968, then was given his own weekly variety show, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” from January 1969 through June 1972.

GlenCampbellGalveston

Galveston

I remember watching the show and looking back now, I realize what a bright spot it was during some of the most turbulent years of the Vietnam conflict. Glen’s show was a pleasant escape from the war brought into our homes every night during the evening news with Walter Cronkite.

GlenCampbell6True Grit

1969 was a pivotal year in my young life, but music and an occasional movie were my preferred methods of escape. This was the year that Glen Campbell appeared in the movie “True Grit”. I wanted to be tough like John Wayne, handsome like Glen Campbell, and both protector and romantic interest to Kim Darby. Yes, she was young…but I was younger!

Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)
In the mid-1970s, just as I was graduating from high school, Campbell was back on the charts with some of my favorite songs including Rhinestone Cowboy and Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.).

GlenCampbell7
Rhinestone Cowboy

In June 2011, Glen Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six months earlier. He then embarked on a final “Goodbye Tour”. One of his stops was not too far from York, playing at Shippensburg University on October 27, 2012.

GlenCampbell8

Campbell was followed on his final tour by a camera crew and director James Keach for the biography/documentary “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”. The inspiration for this blog came as a result of watching the documentary on CNN last week.

GlenCampbell9I’m Not Gonna Miss You

In January 2013, Campbell recorded his final song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, which was featured in the documentary about his life with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s website, “In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and President Bill Clinton named the week of Thanksgiving as a time to honor caregivers in 1997, which has expanded to National Family Caregivers Month.”

Buddha
During this holiday season, we all have so much to be thankful for. So many of our friends, relatives and loved ones are dealing with Alzheimer’s, the same terrible disease that has impacted the life of Glen Campbell and his family. Others are fully cognizant from a mental perspective, but are dealing with physical health issues.

Please take some time over the holidays to visit with someone you love and care about. Whether they are in their own home or a nursing home, your visit could very well make the difference between a good day for them, feeling loved and cared about, or a day where they feel alone and abandoned. Are you really too busy to stop by for a hug? Take your children along, and if allowed by the facility, take your dog too! Pets give love unconditionally, and I believe that a big sloppy kiss from a dog is better for a person’s emotional health than anything prescribed by a doctor.

PeopleDog

AlzheimersHere’s a link to the National Headquarters for the Alzheimer’s Association: http://www.alz.org/

Here’s a link to the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association: http://www.alz.org/pa/

If you would like to learn more about the life of  Glen Campbell, here’s a link to:  Behind The Music Glen Campbell (orig. air date:  9/19/99)

Violence Sucks! But, YOU can make a difference. Change starts with you.

Let’s be honest….humans haven’t progressed much in the last 100,000 years! We are territorial, vain, self-righteous and like to fight with each other. Why can’t people from different religions, races, political parties, sexual orientations and other self-defined prejudices learn to get along with each other the way animals do (when they’re not eating each other, of course!)
Cheetah & Puppy

Cheetah Cub & Puppy Friendship

ISIS wants to kill everyone who doesn’t follow their ideology. There’s so much turmoil going on in the Middle East, Jews and Arabs hate each other, tribes in Africa killing other tribes over cultural differences, not to mention an American dentist illegally killing a protected national treasure just so he could mount the lion’s head on his wall.Cecil the Lion
North and South Korea despise each other…they’re both Koreans for crying out loud!

Matthew ShepardSeveral years ago I attended a presentation at York Suburban High School related to the story of Matthew Shepard who was beaten, tortured and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming on the night of October 6, 1998, and died six days later from severe head injuries. He was beaten to death by several rednecks because his existence threatened their insecure sexual self-perception.

As I remember, there were rumors that Matthew’s mother “might” be attending the presentation, and there were threats of protestors expected to show up. What is the purpose of protesting such an event? We should be proud of our schools and educators promoting tolerance toward those who are different from us, especially promoting peace to our children so they don’t grow up with the same biases, prejudices and hatred exhibited by their parents.

In December 2014, a guidance counselor in Lancaster County read a children’s book to a Kindergarten class called “Jacob’s New Dress”, which resulted in community uproar.

Jacob's New DressAfter the book was read to the class, the Kindergarten teacher sent a note home to parents explaining the book emphasizes the need to be kind to people, and what people wear is not important. It raises issues of bullying. She invited parents with questions to contact her or the counselor.

Six residents addressed the school board about parent notification concerns, saying that the parents should be notified BEFORE such a book is read in case they don’t want their child exposed to such….such….mmmm, let’s see, could the word possibly be “acceptance”?

Black lives matter, cops lives matter…come on, ALL LIVES MATTER, including animals!

What’s the common denominator in all of this? One word, “violence”.

Violence against those who are “different” from you.
Violence against women.
Violence against children.
Violence against the elderly.
Violence against animals.

Spencer StoneIn the news this week, Spencer Stone, who helped stop a terrorist attack on a French train a few weeks ago, was violently attacked and stabbed several times by two guys outside of a bar….in Sacramento! The poor guy was safer fighting terrorists in a foreign country than he was in his own home town!

Every hour of every day, someone in the very town YOU live in, is getting the crap beat out them by some insecure little punk just to make the bully feel powerful. This is not acceptable behavior! What kind of lessons do you think the children (especially the boys, in that home) are learning? Oh, it’s okay to beat up your woman when you feel like it.

It’s become common for the news media to report daily on the latest killings in York, Lancaster or Harrisburg. A father, son, brother, cousin, sister or mother dies, and for what? Drugs? Money? An argument that will be insignificant in a few days? Death is forever people! And regardless of the propaganda preached by Al-Qaeda, I guarantee you there are NOT 72 virgins waiting for you in the afterlife. If there are, my wife is going to be pretty upset…well, unless they do housework.
York Violence
Violence is the common thread, and reducing the effects of violence starts in the home when the children are young. If a child observes an adult abusing a pet without conscience or repercussions, that is learned behavior. Statistics have shown that many serial killers start out as children injuring or killing small animals. The violence and cruelty escalates with age and the next thing you know, little Johnny is all grown up and travelling the country collecting bones.

Educate YourselfWhat can you do about it? Work to change the behavior in your home, neighborhood, and community. The first thing you need to do is educate yourself on the signs to look for and the options available to seek help for those in need.

You are invited to a FREE panel discussion on “The Link Between Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, and Animal Cruelty” at Millersville University this Tuesday evening (October 13, 2015) at 7:00 PM. The event will be held in Biemesderfer Concert Hall in the Winter Visual & Performing Arts Center on campus.

Here’s a link to more information: http://blogs.millersville.edu/exchange/2015/09/29/psi-chi-plans-panel-on-domestic-violence/

If you or your business organization would be interested in sponsoring this event, please log onto the following page, but make sure to use the drop-down box to indicate your donation goes to the “2015 Psychology Colloquium“.
https://secure.qgiv.com/for/miluni

Please share the information about this panel discussion with everyone you can. Our future as a civilized society depends on it.

Thank you!

Woofstock 2015

WoofstockDogs
This Sunday, September 27th is the 11th annual Woofstock to benefit Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance (CPAA).

If you’re into dogs, Riverfront Park in Harrisburg is THE place to be this Sunday.

I’m proud to have been the host of every Woofstock from the very beginning and will be there to entertain, inform, and have fun again this year.

Woofstock began in 2005 through the efforts of Pat Dravk and Michele Avery, two incredibly wonderful animal advocates, as a way to promote pet adoptions from shelters and the importance of spaying/neutering pets. Their dream of a Woodstock-like festival with music, food, rescue organizations, and of course….DOGS, came together primarily as an awareness campaign for dog owners, and eventually focused on a benefit for CPAA.

Pat and Michele spent more hours than you could possibly imagine organizing the first nine years of Woofstock, dealing with the City of Harrisburg granting access to the location along the Susquehanna River, writing letters, publicizing the event, obtaining sponsors to cover expenses (so a profit for CPAA could be optimized), soliciting bands to perform, marking the vendor and rescue organization spaces the day before Woofstock, and the hardest part…getting volunteers!

After Woofstock 2013 Pat and Michele stepped aside and turned Woofstock over to Zella Anderson (President and Founder of CPAA) and a committee of volunteers, who in turn divided up the overwhelming responsibilities for carrying on the annual festival.

Although Woofstock began as a very music-intensive event, the focus has been shifted over to animal awareness issues such as cruelty to animals, legislation to protect animals, pet owner responsibility, spaying/neutering pets, networking among rescue organizations, and fundraising for both the rescues and CPAA.

This year’s featured musical performer at Woofstock will be Brendan Biondi, a talented young man from Maryland who wrote a great tune about the unconditional love a dog has for his owner called “Song My Dog Wrote”, which he will be performing along with other original “dog” songs. Here’s a link to the video Brendan produced for his song.
https://www.youtube.com/user/brendanb007
Brendan

 

 

 

In addition to Brendan, Pet Guardians Radio will be playing along with…

  • K-9 demonstrations
  • Rescues with adoptable animals
  • Fantastic food
  • CPAA’s infamous “Pet Costume Contest” (bring your dog’s costume along!)
  • Doggie kissing booth
  • Inflatable bounce house slide for the kids
  • Low cost vaccination and microchip clinic
  • Pet grooming
  • Chair massages by HACC massage therapy students
  • And, a wide variety of vendors with pet-related wares.

Woofstock will be held this Sunday, September 27th from 11:00 till 5:00 (Rain or Shine) along Harrisburg’s beautiful Riverfront Park.
Front Street will be closed to traffic between the Harvey Taylor Bridge and the Walnut Street Bridge.

Parking on the streets of Harrisburg is very limited. I suggest that anyone attending should park on City Island and walk across the Walnut Street Bridge to Harrisburg. If you have a family member who can’t walk that far, maybe you could drop them off in downtown Harrisburg, then park your vehicle on City Island and walk across the bridge yourself.

The attendance during this one-day FREE event the last few years has exceeded 10,000 people, and most families bring their dog along.
Your non-aggressive dog is welcome to join you at Woofstock, but he/she MUST be under your control on a short leash because it gets pretty crowded.

And if you have any “gently used” shoes you no longer need or wear, bring them along. For each pair of shoes donated at Woofstock, the CPAA receives 40 cents from WoofTrax and your shoes will go to those in need.

For more information on Woofstock, log onto:  www.cpaawoofstock.com

 

 

Back to school…

As we near the end of August, it’s time for children to head back to school. My grandfather who adopted and raised me was born in 1892. About this time of year I fondly remember him singing an old song to me every year on the morning of the first day of school, but until now, I never knew what it was called or who sang it.Byron Harlan

The lyrics went something like:  “school days, school days, dear old golden rule days. Readin’ and writin’ and ‘rithmatic, done to the tune of a hickr’y stick…”

This morning as my wife Debra was getting ready to head back to work as a professor at Millersville University, I decided to sing the song to her. Of course, she looked at me like I was crazy! But at least my insanity led to this blog.

Through research I discovered the song is called “School Days” by Byron Harlan, and found a recording of the tune from 1908.
School Days by Byron Harlan

Beach BoysThe Beach Boys dealt with the rivalry between schools in “Be True to Your School” in 1963 featuring cheerleading by The Honeys and the University of Wisconsin “fight” song “On Wisconsin”.
“Be True to Your School” by the Beach Boys

In 1980 Pink Floyd had a #1 hit with “Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)” that maintained the top spot for 4 weeks and stayed on the charts for 19 weeks. Another-brick-in-the-wallHere’s a VH1 Classic video that has had over 86 million views on YouTube.

“Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd

Harry ChapinAlthough it never charted in the Top 40, one of my favorite songs by the late Harry Chapin is called “Flowers Are Red”. Here’s a link to Chapin performing the song live along with the story of how popular the song was and why he wrote it.
I strongly believe in encouraging creativity in children, but this song is about the damage that can be done when a teacher (or anyone for that matter) discourages creative development.

“Flowers Are Red” by Harry Chapin (live)

Van Halen Hot for TeacherAlong with screaming guitars, pounding drums, and the awesome vocals of David Lee Roth, Van Halen catered to every schoolboy’s fantasies with “Hot for Teacher” from their album “1984”, which coincidentally was released in 1984. Not that the lyrics needed any help, the music video with a teacher in a bikini didn’t hurt the song’s appeal to young men. Regardless, the song didn’t chart in the Top 40.

“Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen

Paul Simon SchoolyardIn 1972 Paul Simon released “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”. The video clip is pretty cool with the school kids and featuring cameos from Biz Markie, Kool Mo Dee, the late Mickey Mantle and John Madden.

“Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon

Steely Dan SchoolMy 40th year high school reunion is coming up in a few weeks, and other than an informal gathering for the 5th year reunion, I’ve been the entertainment for each of the last 35 years. Every reunion, the one song that comes to mind for me is the 1973 tune by Steely Dan, “My Old School”. The song came out when I was a sophomore in high school, but the lyrics seem to tell the story of my life. Naturally, at every reunion I make it a point to play the song. I was the student who almost didn’t graduate with my class, but somehow I changed my attitude and made it through, and now, despite the lyrics, I’m proud to go back to My Old School (reunions).

“My Old School” by Steely Dan

Brenda HollowayThis is an interesting song that I’ve never heard before, but found it while researching “school” songs for this blog. Brenda Holloway was a recording artist for Motown Records during the 1960s. I never realized it, but Brenda Holloway co-wrote “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”, one of my absolute favorite songs by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Brenda was one of the opening acts for The Beatles landmark Shea Stadium show on August 15, 1965. I don’t know if this song was created as a public service message or expected to be a hit record, but both the song and the message are inspiring.

“Play It Cool, Stay In School” by Brenda Holloway

Young MC PrincipalYoung M.C. (Marvin Young) is best known for his 1989 hit “Bust a Move”, but his follow-up song “Principal’s Office” which came out in 1990 is a fun song with a very entertaining video. Don’t let the title of the song fool you, Young graduated with an economics degree from the University of Southern California.

“Principal’s Office” by Young M.C.

Cat Stevens“(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard” by Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) was released in 1977 and was his last US top 40 chart hit for almost three decades. Other than simple videos of concert performances, this was one of the few music videos that Stevens made. The song was unique in that it utilized a polyphonic synthesizer.

“(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard” by Cat Stevens

For punk rockers, there was the classic “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” by The Ramones. There were three versions of this song, the first produced by Ed Stasium and the last two by Phil Spector (and his “Wall of Sound” mixing technique).

Ramones School“In the music video, drummer Marky Ramone plays the role of the teacher, dressed as a female. Also 3 of the band members girlfriends/wives can be seen; Dee Dee’s first wife Vera Boldis, Johnny’s then-girlfriend Roxy and Joey’s then-girlfriend (who later became involved with and married bandmate Johnny), Linda Ramone.”

“Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” by The Ramones

Supertramp SchoolThe group Supertramp, formed in 1969 under the name Daddy, was a project financed by a Dutch millionaire. Their success is underlined by the songwriting talents of founders Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson. In September 1974 the band released the album “Crime of the Century” which included their first Top 40 hit “Bloody Well Right”. The album also produced a song titled “School” which is featured in the attached video. The video is a “live” performance by Roger Hodgson which is nice, but in order to fully appreciate the intensity of the song, you should listen to a studio version of it with a good pair of speakers or headphones.

“School” by Supertramp

Chuck BerryChuck Berry is such an American Rock ‘n’ Roll icon that the house he lived in during the 1950’s when he wrote the majority of the songs with which he is identified with, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. Chuck Berrys HouseThe house, built in 1910, is located at 3137 Whittier Street in St. Louis, Missouri. It was while living there that Berry wrote his third highest charting record, “School Day” also known as “School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)” which peaked at #3 on the charts. The only songs he had that rated higher were “Sweet Little Sixteen” which peaked a #2, and “My Ding-A-Ling” which was his only #1 hit record.

“School Day” by Chuck Berry

One of the bands who credit Chuck Berry as an early influence is Brownsville Station, formed in 1969 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Although the band only had two songs hit the Top 40, “Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room” which peaked at #3 in 1973 continues to influence musicians today. Motley Crue’s first big hit came with a cover version of the song in 1985. Brownsville StationAnd today there’s a cd titled “Nashville Outlaws, A Tribute to Motley Crue” which features country musicians covering Motley Crue songs. On the disc, LeAnn Rimes does her own version of Motley Crue’s take on “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.”
The video attached features the original Brownsville Station version of the song, but the creative production of the video is put together by Keith McDonald.

“Smokin’ In the Boys Room” by Brownsville Station

Bobby RydellPhiladelphia native Robert Ridarelli was not only a singer, but an actor as well who appeared in the movies Bye Bye Birdie and The Lady From Peking. But it was from another movie the Bobby Rydell had a hit record with “Swingin’ School in 1960. The movie was “Because They’re Young” starring James Darren and Tuesday Weld. “Swingin’ School” spent 12 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, peaking at #5 in the U.S., while reaching #1 in Australia. I guess those cool kids down under enjoyed swingin’ in school!

“Swingin’ School” by Bobby Rydell

38 Special TeacherA movie that I enjoyed, in part because of the music as well as the actors, is the 1984 film “Teachers”. The movie was shot in Columbus, Ohio and starred Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Judd Hirsch (Taxi), Ralph Macchio (Karate Kid)and Richard Mulligan (Soap).
The soundtrack was exceptional with music by Bryan Adams, Freddie Mercury, The Motels, Bob Seger, and .38 Special. I am a big fan of Bob Seger and southern rock music, so the song “Teacher Teacher” was a natural fit for this list of back to school songs.

“Teacher Teacher” by .38 Special

LuluAnd finally, let’s wrap this list up with the biggest hit record for a Scottish lass who was once married to the late Robin Gibb (of the Bee Gees), Lulu. She not only had a #1 record that stayed on top of the charts for five weeks in 1967, but she appeared in the film with the same title, starring Sidney Poitier. On April 13, 2015 Lulu released her first new studio album in a decade, “Making Life Rhyme.”

“To Sir, with Love” by Lulu
(Scenes from video are from movie ”To sir with love”)

Okay students, the blog is over, now get back to your homework!

Remembering Laurie…

Have you ever received news that you didn’t expect, then when you were told, felt totally shocked, upset and devastated? This is what happened to me on Monday, July 20th.

I’ve been buying cars from a small dealer in Dover for about 10+ years. I’ve always felt that Keith, the man who owns the sales and service shop on a backstreet in Dover is the most honest car dealer I’ve ever had the pleasure to deal with.

I originally met Keith in the early 2000’s when I went to him to buy parts for my 1993 Miata. While there one day, I found a 2001 Miata on his lot. Being the non-mechanical kind of a guy I am, I got the keys from him, sat in the car, started it up and turned on the factory Bose stereo radio/cd player….and was sold! That’s all it took, a cool car with an awesome sound system.

Since then, I’ve traded the Miata for a 2006 Mercedes SLK280 (convertible/hardtop combo) that Keith was working on. It’s kind of like a Miata on steroids! I’ve also purchased two Mercury SUV’s and two cars for my daughter from Keith.

LaurieKeith had a wonderful young lady who managed the office for his garage, greeting customers with a friendly smile, always cheerful. Her name was Laurie and she had the kind of personality that could brighten anyone’s day. Based on her personality at work, I can’t imagine many people knew the kind of Hell she was going through at home with her common-law husband, I didn’t have a clue.

On May 17, 2015 I published a blog titled “Stop Child Abuse”, listing a link at the end of the article for several organizations to contact if the reader suspected a child abuse situation. Little did I know that less than two weeks later, on May 29th, my friend Laurie would lose her life as a result of domestic violence.

Laurie2On Friday, July 17th I was careless when hooking up my trailer to my SUV and sustained some damage to the back of my vehicle. So, the first thing I did was placed, not one, but several calls to Laurie to see if she could help me find the parts I needed to repair the damage. I was surprised when she didn’t call me back, something she always did. On Monday, I got a call from Bob at the shop where Laurie worked informing me that one of the victims in that tragic double-murder/suicide I read about in the newspaper at the end of May was my friend Laurie.

I didn’t know Laurie’s last name, so it didn’t click with me that she was the victim (along with her friend Barbara Schrum) of the senseless murder that I heard and read about.

Laurie'sCatLaurie loved animals, especially her cats! I remember talking with her at the garage one day after she left her abuser this past winter, and she told me she took only one cat with her when she moved out of her home because that’s all she could have in her new apartment. At the time, Laurie told me she was concerned about the cats she had to leave behind because, even though they were domesticated house cats, her abuser (I refuse to use his name!) threw the cats outside in the cold winter weather to fend for themselves after she left.
TracyChapman

 

 

 

 

Tracy Chapman – Behind the Wall (Live 1988)

I’m still upset after learning that it was Laurie who lost her life and I’m having trouble dealing with it. She was so kind and caring to everyone she met! But something I read in the paper really disturbs me. According an article in the newspaper, “Laurie Kepner called several different law enforcement agencies, asking that an officer accompany her to the home while she retrieved her belongings. But she couldn’t get anybody to go with her.” I realize police officers are busy, but when it comes to issues involving a history of domestic violence, I would hope there would be some priority given or resource available to help women in such a dangerous situation.
BabyFace

 

 

 

 


Babyface (featuring Stevie Wonder) – How Come, How Long
(1996)

Several years ago I served on the board of directors of a child advocacy organization in York County. I heard “rumors” about a group of bad-ass bikers in Adams County that volunteered to accompany women to their former residence to safely collect their belongings. I don’t know if this was true or not, but if law enforcement officers are too busy, I see a need for this service today.
MartinaMcBride

 

 

 

Martina McBride, “Independence Day” (1994)

Here’s a link to an article that was published in the York Dispatch by Liz Evans Scolforo on June 3rd, just a few days after Laurie’s death. This will give you better insight into the life of this wonderful woman that was taken so senselessly. The story about Stardust will touch your heart.
Nickelback

 

 

 

 

Nickelback, “Never Again” (2001)

Although my blog is generally centered on music, I wanted to dedicate this particular column to remember the life of Laurie Ann (Kuykendall) Kepner, and to encourage others involved in domestic violence situations to seek help before it’s too late.

Here is a list of organizations in York County for victims of domestic violence, organizations that you may be interested in supporting financially or becoming a volunteer.

YWCA York’s ACCESS-York & Victim Assistance Center

THE YORK COUNTY PROTECTION FROM ABUSE INFORMATION CENTER

YWCA Safe Home Hanover

York County SPCA – Many times victims of domestic abuse will not leave their home because they can’t take their pet along with them to a temporary “safe” shelter, and they fear what will happen to their pet if they leave it behind. The York County SPCA has a “safe pet” program to help these individuals with temporary boarding for their pet while they are in transition to a permanently safe situation.

Maybe that biker protection gang isn’t such a bad idea?

A Musical Prayer for Peace and Racial Harmony

What does it take for mankind to learn to coexist and live in a peaceful world?

9-victims-of-charleston-church-massacreCollectively, our nation’s heart was broken on June 17, 2015 when nine people were killed by a gunman at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, simply because of the color of their skin. I’ve always abhorred violence, believing that those who hate have no right to exist in a civilized society.

EvangETRAs a child, about 5 years old, I remember attending services at an inner-city black church in Harrisburg with my grandparents (who, as a result of adopting me, were also my parents). My grandfather was a Hell, Fire & Brimstone Pentecostal Evangelist who loved to preach in and attend services in black churches. He appreciated the passion and emotion exhibited by those who truly had the spirit. It was  different from the Lutheran Church I later attended as an adult.

WFECMy earliest taste in music was formed while listening to WFEC, an AM radio station in Harrisburg every night when I went to bed. I was about 7 years old when my passion for soul music was ignited with the Motown sound of The Temptations, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Four Tops and so many other great “soul” groups. This was the main inspiration for me getting into radio as a DJ years later.

The very first 45rpm record I purchased was by Archie Bell and the Drells.

Archie Bell DrellsIt was a song, that I still love today called (There’s gonna be a) Showdown. Don’t let the title fool you, it wasn’t about a violent confrontation, but rather a dance competition.

The 60’s were such a pivotal time in the history of the United States. The Viet Nam war lingered on, the Civil Rights Act was passed, and racial tension throughout much of the country was at a boiling point, including riots in York and Harrisburg.

ImpressionsOne of the songs that resonated strongly with me was “Choice of Colors” by The Impressions. The song only reached #21 on the Pop chart, but it went all the way to #1 on the R&B chart in the summer of 1969.

In the mid to late 60’s I lived in uptown Harrisburg. I remember a business right across the alley from our house. The front of the building was on North 6th street and the back of the building faced our backyard. When the business closed and a brand new record label moved in, my soul-music dreams came true.

Soulville RecordAs I was turning 10 years old in September 1967, Soulville Records opened for business. Original founders of the label were Bobby Fulton, Toby Young, Jimmy Walker and Hulie Diggs. The idea behind Soulville was to fill a void for a gospel/soul record label in the Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania area.

I vividly remember racing up to the large windows on the front of the building and admiring the 8”x10” black and while promotional photos of the musicians. Wow, real soul stars making music right there in my neighborhood! Somehow, I wanted to be a part of their history-making future.

Here is one of my favorite songs from Soulville, “The Way I Love You” by The Continental Four.

Soulville CD
Several years ago a CD with 25 tracks from the archives of Soulville was released.

A few other songs related to peace and harmony among the human race include Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” which hit the top spot on both the Pop and R&B charts in 1969, George Harrison with Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) in 1973, and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes classic “Wake up Everybody” from 1975. This was the band’s last Top 40 hit with drummer/lead singer Teddy Pendergrass.

WonderA song that may sound like a typical Top 40 hit if you only listen to the single edition is “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder in 1973. However, if you listen to the full album version of the song, Stevie includes a very realistic-sounding interlude at 4:10 into the song which projects the audio image of a young man arriving in New York City for the first time in his life. As soon as he gets off the bus, he gets busted for a crime he was set up for, and railroaded through the court system. The audio is so graphic and realistic, if you listen carefully you’ll hear the cop calling him the “N” word as he slams the jail cell door. This is a pretty profound way for a musician to call attention to the racial bias and attitudes still remaining in American society nearly 10 years after passage of the Civil Rights act.

SpinnersAnother song I would like to share is a beautiful tune by The Spinners. It never made the Top 40 but the message and lyrics about the difference a mother can make in the life of a child is priceless. The song is called “Sadie”. Maybe I’m biased about the song because my Great Grandmother’s name was Sadie Rudy. She was the person who gave birth to and raised my Grandfather, Rev. Edward T. Rudy, who together with my Grandmother Ida, gave me a life, love and opportunities that I otherwise would have never had.

John MellencampOne of my favorite artists of all time is John Mellencamp. I remember attending one of his concerts in Hershey and noticed something on the front of his guitar. I read that he carved the words “F*** fascism” into his guitar on the eve of his taping MTV’s Unplugged episode.

Let’s end the musical part of this blog as we began, with the ideology of Mellencamp’s song “Peaceful World”.

A Path AppearsI’m reading an inspirational book by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn called “A Path Appears (Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity)” and there is an excellent quote that is attributed to a friend of Microsoft executive John Wood.
Wood considers this the secret of life…

“Think early on what you want your legacy to be, what you would like to be able to say on your deathbed. Then work backward from there.”

It’s a great way to think about the impact we hope to have in our lives.

Musclecars, Music and Memories

On August 7, 1965, history took place when a little airport in York County was the site of the inaugural Super Stock Nationals. If you’re a motorhead like me and love musclecars, the name York US30 Dragway is synonymous with fast cars, burning rubber, screaming engines, and legions of fans watching cars race side-by-side down the airstrip at the Thomasville airport. Okay, to be honest, I’ve never been to York US30 Dragway, but I’ve known about the legendary drag-racing track since I was a young man.

Cuda1I’ve had so many cars during my lifetime, most of which I wish I still owned. My first car was a 1968 VW Beetle that I purchased in 1973 when I was 16.

Okay, not so impressive, but when I blew the bug up, my second car was a 1968 Plymouth GTX. Wow! I loved that car! It had a 440 under the hood, 4-speed transmission and…..uh, about 4 miles to a gallon of gas. Cuda2a

Other toys I’ve owned included a 1970 Plymouth Satellite, a 1973 Plymouth Barracuda (cloned to look like a ‘Cuda), and a 1968 Nova.

The Nova was originally owned by my best friend in the world, John Gordy. About 1978, John sold me the car, which I immediately had painted white thanks to a $99.95 Earl Scheib paint job.

NovaAbout a year later, I sold the car back to John…and he still has it today! However, after many years of sitting, the car is in pretty bad shape.

NovaJohn is in the process of completely restoring the Nova. He’s got a lot of work to do, as you can see from the picture, but that’s to be expected when you pursue your passions and dreams. In the end, it will be all worth the time, money and effort…but this time, I don’t think he’ll sell it back to me, at least not for the same price as before…about $500.

On May 15, 1990 I purchased a 1974 AMC Javelin from the original owner, I believe her name was Linda.
The car was maxi-blue with black interior. With a 304 ci engine under the hood and automatic transmission, it wasn’t real fast, but it sure did look great with the air shocks, Keystone Classic wheels, 60 series tires on back and 70’s up front.

Javelin2Linda even gave me the original window sticker. It was her first car and she purchased it from R.W. Bowman and Son AMC in York. She told me the greatest story that endeared me to the history of the car from day one.

The car was a Javelin, which is sort of a base model of the AMX. There are many differences between the Javelin and AMX including engine size, performance package, etc., but the most visible difference to me, was the AMX had a really cool spoiler on the trunk. The spoiler gave the car a finished look, like a real racecar.

Javelin3aWhen Linda took her dad to see the car she wanted to buy, he said “That car looks like a woman with no butt” (but, he didn’t say “butt”). So he offered to pay to have the dealership add the AMX-style spoiler to the car, which honestly did add a classic musclecar finishing touch to the Javelin.

Now, back to York US30 Dragway. Unfortunately, the track closed in 1979 and all that remained for many years was the memories of this historic drag-racing airstrip.

Darwin Doll Bill StilesThen in 2002 Darwin Doll and Bill Stiles started Musclecar Madness, an event at the York Fairgrounds to bring together former cars, drivers, fans, and memorabilia collectors.

Musclecar Madness 2015This year Musclecar Madness will be held for the final time July 10th through the 12th.

Here’s a link to a great article about this year’s Musclecar Madness published in the York Dispatch.

Now, here’s the kicker to how all this musclecar information relates to my music blog…
There are so many great car songs that have been recorded, and instead of listing “my” favorites, I want to hear from YOU!

What was (or still is) your favorite car song, or tune to cruise to? How about memories that went along with your cruisin’ days? Where did you hang out? What were your favorite songs? Is there a song that takes you right back to those “Happy” days when you hear it today? Is there a song you loved, but can’t find it today…maybe I can find it and post it for you.

Send those memories and requests to:  radio@bobrudy.com

Let’s end this blog with one of the original radio commercials from York US30 Dragway.

Dancing on the edge of Crazy!

This week I decided to step off the edge of “normal” (whatever “normal” is) and go a little crazy with my music selections. There have been so many Crazy songs recorded, however, I will just highlight a few.

Let’s start in 1955 with a song by a band called The Hollywood Flames, titled “Crazy”. Hollywood FlamesCrazy was the “B” side to “Buzz Buzz Buzz”. The Flames formed at a talent show in Watts, Los Angeles in 1949. Early in their career they released two songs written by Murry Wilson (father of The Beach Boys), “Tabarin” and “I’ll Hide My Tears”. Original lead singer, Bobby Byrd eventually left The Flames and recorded “Rockin’ Robin” under the name Bobby Day, which went on to reach #2 on the charts in 1958.

Patsy ClinePatsy ClineCrazy (1961) *written by Willie NelsonCrazy (1992)
This was the song that gave Willie Nelson his big break when Patsy Cline recorded it. Willie covered crazy on his own debut album in 1962. Willie Nelson 1965

Farm Aid 2009According to VH1’s Storytellers, Willie revealed that this song was originally titled “Stupid.” Crazy is the one of the most-played songs on jukeboxes in the United States. It’s been reported that when she first heard the song, Patsy Cline didn’t like it at all. It was her husband Charlie Dick and her producer Owen Bradley who loved the song and persuaded Patsy to record it.

HeartCrazy on You (1976) (Video recorded live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013). “Crazy on You” was Heart’s first single. Ann-and-Nancy-Wilson-HeartFrom what I’ve read, the original band members were from Seattle and moved to Vancouver when some of the male members of the band would have been subject to the draft in the Vietnam War. When the concern of draft was no longer a threat, they moved back to Seattle. Ann and Nancy Wilson reportedly wrote this song about Mike Fisher, original guitarist for the band who eventually became their sound man.

Paul SimonStill Crazy After All These Years (Video recorded live in Philadelphia in 1976.) In a 1990 interview, Simon said the title phrase ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’ came to him first as a line. Then, he had to create a story and a melody to go with it. paul-simon-turkey-suit-snl-1976On an episode of Saturday Night Live that Simon hosted (Thanksgiving weekend), he sang “Still Crazy” while wearing a turkey costume, stopped in mid song, walked backstage to complain to producer Lorne Michaels. Reportedly, it was Simon’s idea to do this as he wanted to show he had a sense of humor. “Still Crazy After All These Years” is a gentle, reflective song dwelling on middle age that many baby boomers could relate to. Karen Carpenter chose this song to cover for her debut solo album in 1980, but it wasn’t released until 1996.

paul-davisPaul DavisI Go Crazy (1978) Davis died of a heart attack one day after his 60th birthday in 2008. Davis had a career covering three decades as a singer/songwriter in pop, country and soul music from the late 1960s through the 1980s. I go crazy stayed in the Top 40 for 25 weeks, peaking at #7.

QueenCrazy Little Thing Called Love (1980) #1 for 4 weeks. Freddy Mercury - QueenFreddy Mercury is reported to have written this song while taking a bubble bath. According to Peter Hince, the head of Queen’s road crew, the idea come to Mercury while in the bath. “He emerged, wrapped in a towel, I handed him the guitar and he worked out the chords there and then.” The song sounds more like Elvis Presley than Queen, but the fans loved it.

Ozzy OsbourneCrazy Train (1980) This was the first single Ozzy released after leaving Black Sabbath in 1978. OzzyCrazy Train was written by Ozzy, guitarist Randy Rhoads and bass player Bob Daisley. Before it had a title or lyrics, the trio noticed that the music had a “chugging” sound coming through the amp. Rhoads and Daisley were both into collecting trains and Daisley said “Randy, that sounds like a train. But it sounds nuts. A crazy train”, thus the title of the song. Although many believe this is a song about insanity (typical of Ozzy), it’s actually about the Cold War. Check out the lyrics. I found it interesting to discover that the trio was originally formed to be a band called “Blizzard of Ozz”. Rhoads, Daisley, and Ozzy wrote songs together, later adding drummer Lee Kerslake.

Ozzy LP coverBut their record label, Jet Records (owned by Ozzy’s future father-in-law) made the record look like a solo project by picturing Ozzy alone on the album cover and listing his name in big letters on top of the words “Blizzard of Ozz.”

 


Prince
Let’s Go Crazy (#1 song in 1984) In the beginning of this song Prince takes on the persona of a preacher with a church organ in the background as he appears to deliver a sermon about the challenges of life. Prince’s birth name is Prince Rogers Nelson. His nickname in school is reported to have been “Skipper.” He was apparently a very talented basketball player despite being only 5’2” tall.

PrincePrince produces, arranges, and plays most of the instruments on his albums. He is considered to have been a child prodigy, learning to play over a dozen instruments before the age of 15. The first song he learned to play on the piano was the original “Batman” theme when he was 7 years old. Here’s an interview with Prince on the Arsenio Hall Show from 2014

MadonnaCrazy For You (1985) This song was recorded for the film Vision Quest, which featured an appearance of Madonna playing a singer at a restaurant. “Crazy for You” was co-written by John Bettis, who also wrote songs for the Carpenters, Pointer Sisters, Whitney Houston, and Vanessa Williams.

MadonnaMadonna recorded her vocals for this song in one take and “Crazy For You” earned Madonna her first Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1986. However, she lost to Whitney Houston’s song “Saving All My Love For You.”

David Lee RothGoin’ Crazy (1986)
David Lee RothIn 1985, while David Lee Roth was still lead singer for Van Halen, he released his first solo EP, “Crazy from the Heat”, featuring the Beach Boys hit, “California Girls”, and “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t got Nobody” along with two other songs. One year later after leaving Van Halen, Roth released “Eat ‘Em and Smile” which included two lounge songs, “That’s Life” and “I’m Easy”, along with the 60s garage band classic “Tobacco Road”. Also included on the album was “Yankee Rose”, a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Statue of Liberty, and the song “Goin’ Crazy.” Although “Goin’ Crazy” only hovered near the middle of the Billboard Hot 100, it became a staple song on MTV.

The Van Halen album “5150” was released in 1986. It was the first of four albums to be recorded with new lead singer Sammy Hagar, who replaced David Lee Roth. Van Halen Hagar“Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code which authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes him or her a danger to themselves.” 5150 has become urban/Internet/police slang for crazy one on the loose. Danger to property, danger to others, and danger to themselves…you better call the cops before she (or he) goes 5150 on you. Although Van Halen doesn’t have any songs specifically with the word crazy on the album 5150, they do include the title track “5150”.

Country Thunder - Twin Lakes, Wisconsin - Day 1Dierks Bentley5-1-5-0 (2012) Bentley wrote this song with Brett and Jim Beavers. According to the website “The Boot”, The song started with a line Bentley had written for another song, “let’s get crazy, let’s get fifty-one-fifty”. Bentley is quoted as explaining “I was telling it to a friend of mine and he said, ‘What does that mean?’ And I told him it was Van Halen; it’s California police code for criminally insane. The next day, he was singing, ‘5-1-5-0, somebody call the po-po.’ I just started laughing because I thought that was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. And he said, ‘I’m tellin’ ya, my kids cannot stop singing that.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, man.'”
A couple of days later, Bentley was writing the song with the Beavers Brothers and he still had the line stuck in his head so he said to them, “Let’s write it and be done with it.” So what does the title actually mean? Said Bentley to The Boot: “People don’t really know what it means but who really knew what ‘867-5309′ meant? I remember when that song was out [sings], ‘867-5309? Is that a real number? Is that an area code?’

Fine Young CannibalsShe Drives Me Crazy (#1 song in 1989) This was one of several songs the band provided for the soundtrack to the movie Tin Men. When lead singer Roland Gift used his original voice, the song was called “She’s My Baby”, but no one liked it. So, they revamped the lyrics and added a falsetto voice for the new version “She Drives Me Crazy” and everyone liked it.
Fine-Young-CannibalsDolly Parton covered this song on her 2008 album Backwoods Barbie, Weird Al turned it into a parody called “She Drives Like Crazy”, Arsenio Hall recorded a spoof, under the name Chunky A, called “Ho is Crazy. But my favorite is a version done with Kermit the Frog & Miss. Piggy in 1994 featuring cameos by various celebrities.

aerosmith_crazyAerosmithCrazy (1994) Steven Tyler and Joe Perry wrote this song with Desmond Child. Child is a songwriter who has also collaborated on hits with Kiss, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Joan Jett, Michael Bolton, Ricky Martin, and Katy Perry.
“Crazy” was written in the late ‘80s around the same time they wrote “Angel”, but the songs were considered too similar, so while “Angel” was released on the Permanent Vacation album, Crazy was introduced two albums later on Get A Grip.

BeyonceBeyonceCrazy in Love (#1 song in 2003) The horns in this song were sampled from the 1970 Chi-lites song “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)”. After playing the beat for Beonce, the verses and the hook for “Crazy In Love” were written by Rich Harrison in two hours while she took a break. He left the bridge for her to complete. Harrison was a fan of the Chi-lites sample long before he met Beyonce. Jay-Z and Beyonce were dating at the time the song was recorded, and he did the rap. The song was their first collaboration and when the couple were married in 2008, they shared their first dance together to “Crazy in Love”. Beyonce explained the song to writer Dennis Hensley this way, “The song talks about how, when you’re falling in love, you do things that are out of character and you don’t really care because you’re just open. The song came from me actually looking crazy one day in the studio.”

Gnarls-BarkleyGnarls BarkleyCrazy (2009) Gnarls Barkley is comprised of producer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and vocalist Cee-Lo Green (Thomas Callaway). The name of the band is a play on Hall Of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley. Cee-Lo said the inspiration for the song came in 2004 when he was going through a divorce and some tough times. The music video is done in the style of the Rorschach test, where a patient describes to a psychiatrist what he/she sees in inkblot patterns, then the therapist uses this information to analyze the patient. Crazy was chosen by a panel of experts (including Yoko Ono) as Rolling Stone’s #1 song of the 2000s.

Jason AldeanJason AldeanCrazy Town (2010) (The video is Aldean performing live on Letterman) Rodney Clawson and Brett Jones wrote this song about the music scene in Nashville as being a “crazy town.” In an interview, AOL asked Aldean if the song hit home. He replied: “If people want to know what it’s like to be an artist and move to this town, [this song] hits the nail on the head. There are a ton of singers in this town, and it’s all about finding what sets you apart from everybody else. Sometimes that takes years. You have to have thick skin. This town will chew you up in a heartbeat; you’ve got to be able to walk into a record label and have them not really care that you’re there, half-ass listen to the stuff that you’re playing and basically tell you to go home. I went through all that stuff.”

2015-EliYoungBandEli Young BandCrazy Girl (2011) The Eli Young Band formed in Denton, Texas in 2000 when Mike Eli and James Young met as freshman roommates at the University of North Texas. Together with Chris Thompson and Jon Jones, the band became local favorites. Crazy Girl was written by singer-songwriter Lee Brice and Liz Rose, who also co-wrote several of Taylor Swift’s hits. This was Eli Young Band’s first #1 hit.

Napoleon XIVThey’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa (1966)
Napoleon XIVThis is, in my opinion, the craziest of the crazy songs. I remember it as a child and being totally impressed…but then what can you expect from a 9-year-old!
Napoleon is Jerry Samuels, a recording engineer from New York. When the song became a hit, the record company sent other people to perform it at live appearances. According to Songfacts.com, Samuels said “It took me 9 months to finish it. I wrote one verse and the chorus, and immediately I realized I was writing a sick joke. So I said, ‘This is no good, I’ll put it away.’ Three months later it was still running through my head; I pulled it out again and wrote the second verse and it was an even sicker joke. Finally about 6 months after that I decided I was going to finish it, and I was going to do something in that last verse that would throw things off a little bit, so I referred to the object – ‘They’re coming to take me away because of what YOU did – I referred to YOU as a dog. The dog ran away. By doing that I felt I was lightening the sickness of the joke, and I probably was and it probably did some good for me, but that was the reason I went for that afterthought.” The flip side of this single was the same song….RECORDED BACKWARDS!!! A group called Josephine XV was created to record an answer song to this called “I’m Happy They Took You Away, Ha-Haaa!” Another answer song was Teddy And Daniel’s “They took you away, I’m glad, I’m glad.”
Jerry SamuelsSamuels appeared at the monthly meeting of the Keystone Record Collectors in the past year. They provided a great article in their newsletter about Samuels and his one-hit-wonder, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”
If you have any interest in music at all, it would benefit you to attend one of the monthly meetings of the Keystone Record Collectors (KRC) in Lancaster. Admission is FREE. Here’s a great link to a video introducing you to the KRC that was produced by the York Dispatch. Those guys at Keystone Record Collectors are CRAZY about anything related to records, music and memorabilia!

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