Stop Child Abuse!

One of the causes that I am most passionate about is preventing child abuse and holding those responsible for such pain to children, the most innocent in our society, accountable for their actions.

I came up with an idea to create awareness and raise funds to protect children about 20 years ago, but unfortunately, haven’t the resources available to implement my plan.

My idea is to create a compilation album/CD of songs either directly, or indirectly related to the victimization of children with all proceeds going to organizations that protect children.

The legalities of obtaining permission to use the songs along with production, promotion and distribution of the CD are well beyond my range of experience.

I’ve compiled a partial list of songs, but would welcome any suggestions for others that would fit the project.

Hell is for Children – Pat Benatar (1980)

There are two versions of Hell is for Children, the studio version, and the “live” version, which has a very unique opening. Although I personally prefer the studio versions of most songs, there’s something very powerful about the live album version which has the intro:  “Suffer The Little Children” leading into “Hell Is for Children”.

BenatarIn researching this song, I found an interview with Neil Giraldo, husband of Pat Benatar, as well as guitarist in her band and co-writer of the song along with Benatar and bass player Roger Capps. According to the interview from the website songfacts.com, the song was inspired by an article that Benatar read in the New York Times about child abuse. After the song was released, the public thought the song was written from the perspective of Pat’s personal abuse, but Giraldo said that wasn’t the case. He said “She had a great upbringing. You couldn’t get more Happy Days-like than her. She had the perfect Happy Days life.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Pat Benatar backstage when she appeared in Hershey right after her daughter Haley was born in 1985. I remember her saying that her baby was with the nanny. At the time I was working at 93.5 WTPA. It’s hard to imagine that little girl is now 30 years old!

Read the lyrics here.
Watch the video here. (Note: This “live” video version does not have the “Suffer The Little Children” intro contained on the “live” album cut.)

Luka – Suzanne Vega (1987)

Luka tells the story of a frightened boy who is forbidden to talk about what he’s going through. Again, from the website songfacts.com, Vega had this to say on a Swedish television special in 1987, “A few years ago, I used to see this group of children playing in from of my building, and there was one of them, whose name was Luka, who seemed a little bit distinctive from the other children. I always remembered his name, and I always remembered his face, and I didn’t know much about him, but he just seemed set apart from these other children that I would see playing. And his character is what I based the song Luka on. In the song, the boy Luka is an abused child – In real life I don’t think he was. I think he was just different.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn an interview with SongTalk magazine, Vega said she started with the title for the song, took months to think about how to pull the song together, then she wrote it in two hours. Vega wrote the song about three years before it was released on her second album.

Read the lyrics here.
Watch the video here.

 

The Little Girl – John Michael Montgomery (2000)

MontgomeryThis song was written by Nashville songwriter Harley Allen. There is an email being circulated around the Internet saying that Allen wrote the song after his brother forwarded him a copy of an urban legend email telling the miraculous story of a little girl who sees a picture of Jesus in Sunday school and identifies him as the man who comforted her the night her father killed her mother and himself. According to the website snopes.com, in an article published in USA Today, Allen says he and his brother have tried to track the source of the tale, without luck. He says, “if it ain’t true, it ought to be.”

Read the lyrics here.
Watch the video here.

MoorerThe snopes.com website also lists information about an album by Allison Moorer that was released the same day as Montgomery’s album. Moorer’s album included a hidden track at the end called “Cold, Cold Earth”, about a father who shoots his wife then turns the gun on himself, which parallels the story in “The Little Girl”, however in the case of Moorer’s song, it’s based on a true story…the man and wife were Moorer’s parents.

All The Girls Love Alice – Elton John (1973)

Elton John to Putin: I will show you gay people victimised under Russian lawBernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, which didn’t originally include the word “young”. It’s said that Elton added it during the writing process to better fit the melody he had created. That’s why the title is “All The Girls Love Alice”, but many people identify it as “All The (Young) Girls Love Alice”. Adding the word “young” also appears to emphasize the lyrics about Alice’s age, at sixteen…

“Reality it seems was just a dream
She couldn’t get it on with the boys on the scene
But what do you expect from a chick who’s just sixteen
And hey, hey, hey, you know what I mean”

Tragically, the song tells the story of, not only Alice’s sexual adventures with older women, but her untimely death as well…

“Poor little darling with a chip out of her heart
It’s like acting in a movie when you got the wrong part
Getting your kicks in another girl’s bed
And it was only last Tuesday they found you in the subway dead”

Sexual exploitation of children is a crime that happens around the world every day! If more people realized just how much it touches their lives, right in their own neighborhoods, involving not just strangers, but friends and family, maybe more would be done to stop this unspeakable act of abuse and trafficking of children.

Read the lyrics here.
Watch the video here.

Concrete Angel – Martina McBride (2008)

If you can watch this video without a tear in your eye, you’re a stronger person than me.

McBrideConcrete Angel is a song about the abuse a little girl goes through at the hands of the person who is most expected to protect her…her mother. Like so many children who suffer abuse at home, they try to hide the wounds. The video is an excellent example of the sadness and shame in her eyes, feeling alone without anyone to trust or confide in.

According to someone on the songfacts.com website, the little boy in the video isn’t a real boy, but rather a guardian angel, as explained by Martina McBride in an interview.

In the video, it appears as though the teacher notices the bruises, but doesn’t ask about them. Fortunately, Pennsylvania has recently passed legislation requiring more people to be mandatory reporters if they suspect evidence of child abuse.

Studies have shown that child abuse is cyclical. In many cases, a child who is abused will grow up and repeat the cycle of abuse to their own children if intervention isn’t obtained.

Child abuse isn’t something that will go away. If you suspect a child is being abused and do nothing, you are just as responsible as the person inflicting the abuse.

Read the lyrics here.
Watch the video here.

No Son of Mine – Genesis (1991)

The best way to explain the lyrics to this song is to quote Phil Collins directly, as taken from the radio show Rockline…

Collins“The chorus of the song came from improvisation while we were writing the music. I took the notion of my lyrical idea and just wrote a story around it. The story is sort of self-explanatory. It’s a household of abuse. The father is being sort of the monster of the family – he’s either abusing the son or the mother. I’m not quite sure who, and that’s deliberately left open. But it’s happening everywhere behind closed doors, and a lot of people I’ve found that have heard the song have sort of reacted as if it was written for them. It’s extraordinary, you just write something that comes about by accident, but in fact it all ends up being something that reaches a lot of people.”

The lyrics that make this song stand apart emphasize the fact that it’s not just the physical abuse that affects children. The physical wounds (in most cases) will eventually heal, but the emotional scars can have a profound impact on a person for the rest of their life.

In the song, the young man revisits his father years later, thinking that, with adulthood, things would change. Then his father proceeds to hurt him all over again…

“He sat me down to talk to me
He looked me straight in the eyes

He said:

You’re no son, no son of mine
You’re no son, no son of mine
You walked out, you left us behind
And you’re no son, no son of mine

Oh, his words how they hurt me, I’ll never forget it
And as the time, it went by, I lived to regret it”

Read the lyrics here.
Watch the video here. (This is not the official video, but it is VERY WELL DONE!!!)

The Ballad of Dwight Fry – Alice Cooper (1971)

ALICE-COOPERAlthough this song is not directly about child abuse, the undertones are there. According to Songfacts.com, “This song is a salute to the actor Dwight Frye, who played maniacal characters in many Universal horror films. Cooper dropped the “E” from the name to avoid a lawsuit.”

Cooper would perform this song in a straitjacket, as a disturbed man sent away to an institution. ‘
According to Songfacts.com, “The child’s voice at the song’s intro was actually a woman in her early 20s…

“Mommy where’s daddy?
He’s been gone for so long.
Do you think he’ll ever come home?”

The line that always made me feel uncomfortable is…

“Should like to see that little children
She’s only four years old.. old
I’d give her back all of her play things
Even, even the ones I stole”

I think the reason it disturbed me was, the way he delivered it, with such emotion.

Read the lyrics here.
Watch the video here.

*******************************************************************

If you suspect a child is being abused, please report it!
PA ChildLine is available 24 hours per day,
seven days per week at: 800-932-0313.

National Child Abuse Hotline:  1-800-4-A-CHILD

Child Help USA website:   www.childhelpusa.org

Jenner, Gender, and Rock ‘n’ Roll

On Friday evening, April 24th (2015), Bruce Jenner, recognized as being one of the top Olympic athletes in the world, sat down with Diane Sawyer for a television interview to talk about his gender, sexuality, and issues he’s been dealing with for most of his life.

JennerJenner publicly announced his plan to transition from male to female and focus on creating a new existence as a woman. This is a brave step in a country where the LGBT community is fighting every day for equal rights, and a world filled with hatred toward anyone who is “different” from their personal expectations of gender identity.

For decades, music has been at the forefront of creating change and tolerance for those who dare to challenge the “norms” of society. There is a thin line in rock ‘n’ roll between male and female, gay and straight, masculine and feminine. One possible reason could be the willingness to challenge socially acceptable behavior by those engaged in creative fields (musicians, actors, writers, etc.)

BowieWhen David Bowie first arrived in the U.S. in 1971, he couldn’t perform live due to work permit restrictions, but the press took note of his wearing dresses at promotional events in Louisiana and Texas. Bowie is often credited with co-founding glam rock. According to Celia Philo, the graphic designer who worked with Bowie on his “Aladdin Sane” album cover, “He crossed so many creative boundaries, he understood that the way you looked was as important as the music.” Philo added, “It was the pre-punk era, his image liberated young people who were just waiting to think outside the box and do whatever they wanted with their hair color and makeup.” An example of Bowie crossing the gender barrier in lyrics is the song “Rebel Rebel” from the 1974 album, Diamond Dogs…

“You’ve got your mother in a whirl
She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl”

Lou Reed challenged sexuality with his second studio album, Transformer, in 1972, featuring his only song to hit the Top 40, “Walk on the Wild Side”, which was produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson (who was the lead guitarist with Bowie’s band). Walk on the Wild Side peaked at #16 in 1973 and stayed on the charts for 8 weeks. Considering some of the lyrics, I find it amazing that the censors allowed airplay for the song.

TransformerThe photos on the back of the Transformer album cover feature Ernie Thormahlen, a friend of Reed, dressed as both a butch guy and in drag. According to Joe S. Harrington’s book “Sonic Cool: The Life & Death of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, Lou was supposed to be pictured, but ultimately chickened out.

One of my favorite rock stars while growing up was Vincent Damon Furnier. Maybe it was a combination of his music and the fact that he, like me, was the son of a preacher.

Furnier of course, is Alice Cooper. Before the band KISS came along, Cooper mastered the art of makeup and theatrical performances. His showmanship is legendary.

CooperBettyDavisAccording to his 2007 book, “Alice Cooper, Golf Monster”, he said his look was inspired by Bette Davis in the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? “In the movie Bette wears disgusting caked makeup smeared on her face and underneath her eyes, with deep, dark, black eyeliner.”

If you would like to see Alice Cooper performing “live”, he is coming to Hershey on August 11th, Philadelphia on August 14th, and Baltimore on August 26th.

Dream WeaverAnother album cover that crossed over the boundary of guys wearing makeup was the Gary Wright album, The Dream Weaver. The purple eye shadow certainly made a statement. What that statement was depended on the individual. Regardless, it was (and still is) a great album!

We can’t forget about Lola by The Kinks?

Well I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man

The original album version of Lola included the lyrics…

“I met her in a club down in old Soho, where you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca-Cola”

However, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) refused to play it because of the commercial reference, so Ray Davies flew from New York to London to change the lyric from “Coca-Cola” to “Cherry Cola”, and get the song on the air.

TylerThere are far too many musicians who dance the line of gender identification to list in this blog, but a few to consider include Steven Tyler who designed most of the stage clothes for his concert tours since 1970. According to Tyler, Joe Perry (Aerosmith) would come over and say “That looks great. Do they make that for men?” The design was so over-the-top.

MansonSmithChaz
Others include Marilyn Manson, Robert Smith (The Cure), and although he’s not a musician himself, Chaz Bono’s parents were (Sonny and Cher). He was born Chastity Sun Bono in 1969, identified himself as a transgender man in 1995, and underwent female-to-male gender transition between 2008 and 2010.

Going back to the opening of this blog and the transition of Bruce Jenner, is the similar transition of Tommy Gabel, the lead singer for Against Me!, a punk band from Florida that has been praised by Bruce Springsteen.

Laura Jane GraceA song on Against Me!’s 2005 album called “Searching for a Former Clarity”, include the lyrics…
And in the journal you kept by the side of your bed, Confessing childhood secrets of dressing up in women’s clothes, Compulsions you never knew the reasons to.

Gabel has pursued his transgender goal, and now “she” is known as Laura Jane Grace. Here is a link to a January 2015 MTV interview with Laura Jane Grace.

WhiteSinger Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs), while performing at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on April 11th (2015), took a stance on transgender equality by dedicating the show to transgender people.

 

There are several rock musicals which explore gender issues. One of the most well-known is the 1975 cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, starring Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Frank-n-FurterHere’s a link to Curry singing the song “Sweet Transvestite”.

To rephrase the question I posed in my previous blog, The Politics of Rock ‘n’ Roll, if a musician you like takes a stand on LGBT issues, comes out of the closet, or announces they are transgender, does it cause you to reevaluate your decision to listen to and/or continue to enjoy their music? Does their transparency help you to open your mind to being less judgmental, or entrench you deeper into your belief structure of gender and sexuality?

Politics and Rock ‘n’ Roll

When a musician you like takes a stand on a political, environmental, human rights, or other issue, does it cause you to reevaluate your decision to listen to and/or continue to enjoy their music?

The most recent example is country singer Tim McGraw who will headline a benefit concert for Sandy Hook Promise, a group advocating common sense gun laws, organized following the 2012 elementary school shooting that left 26 dead.

The concert is scheduled for July 17th in Hartford, Connecticut, and is the result of a friendship between one of McGraw’s band members and the father of one of the children who died during the 2012 shooting rampage.
McGraw

In a statement to the press, McGraw said: ““Out of this tragedy a group was formed that made a promise to honor the lives lost and turn it into a moment of transformation. Sandy Hook Promise teaches that we can do something to protect our children from gun violence. I want to be a part of that promise – as a father and as a friend.”

There are conservatives who are outraged that a country singer, coming from a musical genre usually associated with traditional values would perform at a concert they consider anti-gun.

On the opposite end of the gun control debate is Ted Nugent, another example of a musician using the power of the performance stage to express his views, only this time in favor of gun ownership and the NRA.Nugent

At the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, which included appearances by several Republican presidential candidates, Nugent called Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid a “lying prick” and said, if the opportunity arose, he’d “shoot him.” How does this make you feel if you’re a Democrat and anti-gun advocate, but you just happen to like Nugent’s music?

Now, let’s look at former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. During the campaign in 2012, it came out that in 1983, Seamus, the Romney’s Irish setter got sick while spending 12 hours riding on the roof of the station wagon they were traveling in for a family vacation. Late-night host David Letterman spoke about Seamus frequently, “Dogs Aren’t Luggage” T-shirts were sold, and Facebook groups like “Dogs Against Romney” protested outside the Westminster dog show.
Remember the Akron, Ohio group “Devo”?
devo

They had a song called ‘Whip It’ that peaked at #14 in the fall of 1980? Band members were knows to wear some “creative” costumes, like the yellow jumpsuits and flower pot hats.

In the summer of 2012, the band released a single called “Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro (Seamus Unleashed)“, dedicated to Romney’s former pet dog Seamus.

seamus-revengeWas Devo making a political statement to discredit Romney during the election or simply taking advantage of the story to get some publicity?

It’s been said that the impetus for forming Devo followed the Kent State Shootings on May 4, 1970 when four unarmed college students were killed and nine others wounded by the Ohio National Guard during a protest of the Cambodian Campaign, announced by President Richard Nixon during a television address four days earlier.
Kent_State_massacre
In reaction to the Kent State shootings, Neil Young composed the song “Ohio” which was recorded and performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the summer of 1970.

 

Speaking of Nixon…
On December 21, 1970, Elvis Presley met with President Richard M. Nixon at the White House to request a special badge.
Nixon-Elvis
Elvis had a collection of police badges, and decided that he wanted one from the federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

According to Priscilla Presley in her memoir, Elvis and Me, “with the federal narcotics badge, he [believed he] could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished.”

The meeting was captured with the photograph, Elvis and President Nixon. It became one of the most requested photographs in the National Archives history. It’s now available at the Archives gift shop in the form of T-shirts, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets and snow globes.

If you happened to be an anti-war protester and didn’t care for President Nixon in 1970, but were a big fan of Elvis, did this photograph have any impact on your viewpoint? Did the appearance of Elvis with the president make Nixon a little more acceptable? Did you feel betrayed by Presley’s (presumed) acceptance of Nixon, or didn’t it matter to you?

With the presidential election coming up next year, we’ll see an increasing number of candidates teaming up with celebrities to reflect credibility by association. In today’s world of social media, image is everything!
Clinton Sax
Remember this gem from Bill Clinton on The Arsenio Hall Show in June 1992?

Animal Cruelty and Dirty Little Words in Rock n Roll

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I cannot stand by and do nothing when I hear a story about animal abuse. As a result, I’m using the power of this blog to seek the public’s help in finding the person who (according to reports from a local television station), “tied a male dog by the neck onto the bed of a white pickup truck and drove along the 300 block of Maple Street in Columbia. While en route, the dog fell from the truck and was dragged down the street. They say the woman stopped the vehicle, cut off the rope and drove off.”

DogAbused What kind of person could do something so evil to a dog? Columbia Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the driver of the pickup truck.
If you can help, please call the Police Department at 717-684-7735.

 

When I first heard this story, I became so angry that the first song that came to mind was ‘Hair of the Dog’ by the Scottish band ‘Nazareth’. It’s interesting to note that the words Hair of the Dog never appear in the song itself.

The album ‘Hair of the Dog’ was released on April 15, 1975. According to an interview with original Nazareth lead vocalist Dan McCafferty on the website, www.classicrockmusicwriter.com, the band picked the name of their band from a song by the group ‘The Band’ called ‘The Weight’. The song opens with the line: “I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead.”

McCaffertyNazareth

 

 

 

 

 

The only song by Nazareth to hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Music Charts was ‘Love Hurts’, which peaked at #8 in 1976. Love Hurts appears on the album ‘Hair of the Dog’. The song was originally recorded by The Everly Brothers (in 1960) and Roy Orbison (1961).

However, back to Hair of the Dog…McCafferty said they wanted to call it ‘Son of a Bitch’ (which is the main line in the chorus of the song) but the record label (A&M) said “oh no, you can’t do that, they won’t sell it.” So they called the album (and title track) ‘Heir of the Dog’ which basically means ‘Son of a Bitch’ anyway, but the title eventually became ‘Hair of the Dog’ on the album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyXz6eMCj2k

Considering how conservative radio stations were in 1975, not to mention today, it’s a wonder the song ever got airplay to begin with. And for the sake of the poor dog that was abused in Columbia, my thoughts went immediately to canine vengeance in the key line in the song “Now you’re messing with a son of a bitch!”

Other songs that received radio airplay even though the lyrics were questionable include:
“Bitch” by The Rolling Stones from their 1971 album Sticky Fingers.
Here’s an early video of The Rolling Stones doing ‘Bitch’ (live) in Texas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N0A2b7nbdM

StonesBitch45

 

 

 

 

 

 

And ‘The Bitch is Back’ by Elton John. It was the second single released from his 1974 album Caribou. My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing Elton John in Reading, PA on February 28, 2015, and of course he played ‘The Bitch is Back’.

EltonJohn

 

Here’s a photo of Elton John that I took at the concert.

 

 

Here’s a link to a MUCH YOUNGER Elton doing ‘The Bitch is Back’ (live). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rig3tgyYiAM

WhoAreYouThere are many other examples of profanity in rock music that made it to the airwaves, but the one that surprises me most in the way it has evolved over the years is the song ‘Who Are You’ by The Who. For many years the line ‘Who the F*** are you’ slipped by the censors and made it onto the airwaves.

Today however, because of increased enforcement by the FCC, the “F” word is edited out by most radio stations.

Here’s The Who doing an uncensored version of ‘Who Are You?’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdLIerfXuZ4

When I discussed the subject of this blog with my wife, she said “you’ve got to tone it down and not let your emotions put such a negative twist on the dog abuse story”. So I decided to balance the story out with an uplifting song by a young man named Brendan Biondi from the Baltimore area, proclaiming the love he has for his dog.

Brendan

When I first heard the song about a year ago, I reached out to Brendan to tell him how much I enjoyed not only his song, but the excellent video he produced to go along with ‘Song My Dog Wrote’.

I don’t believe the song ever received any radio airplay, but it’s one of my favorites, and is certainly worth checking out. In fact, I suggest bookmarking Brendan’s YouTube website to play the song any time you’re feeling down and need a pick-me-up! https://www.youtube.com/user/brendanb007

Although there are some cruel people in the world, life is good, and a companion pet makes it awesome! Love your pet, report animal abusers, and support your local animal shelter.

Hug your dog as you enjoy Brendan’s song together.

Maggie, our Spirit in the Sky!

There are songs that have a tendency to live on forever, constantly evolving to fit the times, the audience and the situation. I happened to be thinking about one song in particular over the weekend while reminiscing about our Irish Setter, Maggie. For about eight years I was the regular host of a weekly television show called “Meet the Pets” that aired first on White Rose Community television, then Comcast, and currently WGCB, Family 49 in Red Lion. I still occasionally fill-in on the show. Meet the Pets spotlights pets available for adoption from the York County SPCA.

I was hosting Meet the Pets on January 20, 2004 from the York County SPCA when it was still located in Thomasville, when in came a young Irish Setter bouncing off the walls and couldn’t sit still for a second. I have always been a fan of Afghan Hounds, had several and still have one, but there was something extraordinary about this particular red-haired dog! I fell in love with her immediately. Her name was Maggie and although devilish, she had the innocence and charm of a child. After taping the show segment (which included Maggie), I decided I had to take her home with me.

When we got home and Maggie met Taj (my Afghan Hound), they went crazy (in a fun way), chasing each other around the house, barking incessantly. After a few hours of this, I felt I couldn’t handle the confusion and called Donna (the Executive Director of the York County SPCA at the time) and said “I’ve got to bring this dog back, she’s driving me crazy!” Donna said, that’s fine, but it’s after hours and the gates are locked. Fortunately, one of the employees, Marilyn, lived in a second-floor apartment at the shelter. Donna said, let me call Marilyn and see if she’s there to let you in. Donna added, I’ll call you back shortly. I hung up the telephone feeling relieved, but guilty.

I sat down on the sofa and the next thing I knew, Maggie jumped up beside me. She leaned her body up tightly against mine, gazing into my eyes and turning on the charm. Maggie then leaned over and began licking my face. About an hour later, the telephone rang. It was Donna calling back to say, Marilyn is at the shelter and I could take Maggie back. By this time Maggie’s sucking up had worked and I responded, “well, let me give it another day or two to see how things work out.” Well, it sure did work out! Maggie turned out to be the best dog I ever had (and I’ve had many). She accompanied me in parades in York, Harrisburg, Millersville, and appearances at nearly every event I had the pleasure of hosting (where I could bring my dog).

Maggie2012ParadeLife with Maggie was not perfect, but then again, what in life without challenges is worth the effort? When I first took Maggie home, I lived in Northern York County. I had a fenced-in backyard. The fence was 5’ high to keep my Afghan Hound Taj from jumping over it. No problem for an Irish Setter…or, so I thought. Maggie quickly began digging holes UNDER the fence and running off. If you have ever seen the dog in the movie “Funny Farm” starring Chevy Chase, you’ll understand the dilemma I was facing. I came up with a plan; I ran a cable from my house to a pole at the end of the yard and attached a second cable to that one, attaching Maggie to it. Problem solved? Nooooo, not a chance! The next time I looked out the back door, there was my dream dog sitting OUTSIDE the fence, having dug underneath….STILL ATTACHED TO THE CABLE!

Maggie and Santa Dec 2007Fast forward 10 years later, and I still had the little trouble-maker! My wife Debra and I occasionally take our dogs to nursing homes and a day treatment facility for people with severe brain trauma for Pet Therapy visits, and Maggie was a favorite of everyone she met. However, during the spring of 2014 Maggie’s left front leg starting swelling up. We took her to the vet only to discover she had cancer in her leg joint. We had very few options. Removing her leg was not guaranteed to extend her life because it was feared the cancer had spread throughout her body, so we decided to medicate her to reduce the pain and keep the quality of her life as positive as possible. That crazy Irish Setter flourished in spite of her cancer. She learned to hop around on three legs and continued to bring joy into our hearts for another 6-7 months, then one day I went to take her for a walk and found she could not get up. The cancer had finally taken its evil toll on our beloved Maggie.

Maggie2I prayed for a miracle, but it was no use, the time had come to say goodbye. Our hearts were broken, and remain so to this day! She was so alive in her heart and from the neck up, but her body could not overcome the disease. On October 27, 2014 we had to say goodbye to Maggie forever. I took pictures of her just a few hours before she was gone. The ringtone on my cell phone is Maggie barking. She was such a teaser that she would look at me and bark until she got my attention. By the way, Marilyn is STILL a valuable and dedicated employee of the York County SPCA. Thank goodness she was not at home the day I tried to take Maggie back!

(Above Link:  Maggie’s bark)

The song I am featuring this week, in memory of Maggie, is “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum. I play the song on our Internet Radio Station, Pet Guardians Radio, and whenever I hear it, my thoughts and heart go out to Maggie. Ironically, I heard the song this past weekend and today when I opened up the newspaper, I found an article about Norman Greenbaum being involved in an auto accident in California.

Spirit in the Sky was a hit for Greenbaum in 1969/1970. It was his only song to chart in the Top 40 in the U.S., stayed on the charts for 14 weeks and peaked at #3 as a gold single. The song hit #1 on the charts in the UK, Australia, and Canada.

(Above Link:  Norman Greenbaum – Spirit in the Sky)

According to an article in the New York Times (in 2006) “Spirit in the Sky” has been featured in 32 movies and more than a dozen national television ads for products. The article goes on to point out that “the song is a shout out to Jesus, written and performed by a nice Jewish boy from Massachusetts.” Greenbaum wrote the song in 1969 in 15 minutes after watching Porter Wagoner sing a gospel song on television.

Greenbaum early         Norman Greenbaum (then)

Greenbaum today        Norman Greenbaum (today)

Maggie, this one’s for you girl!

Life stories and the music that inspired them

I strongly believe in my heart that everyone has a story to tell, something that they experienced that touched the lives of others.

If we only took the time to listen, especially to senior citizens, we could learn so much. We could be inspired to emulate the ways of kindness from people we never had the chance to meet personally, to open our eyes to a different way of expounding upon the gifts that God has given us: a kind word, an unexpected smile, a hand reaching out to help a stranger, a chance encounter with someone who could end up being a friend for life, or better yet, the love of a lifetime!

Many of our memories are triggered by music, songs that in and of themselves may have been little more than hit records but, for us personally, those songs take us back to a time in our lives that will live on in our souls forever.

Music has a way of painting the canvas of our lives.

The same song will mean something different and unique to each individual who listens to it, based on what we were doing, who we were with or even just thinking about, how we were feeling, and even the location we were in when we first heard the song.

It’s not just songs with lyrics that have a profound effect on us, but instrumental tunes as well. The song could have been performed live, played on the radio or television, in the car or inside a store, music on hold on the telephone…the opportunities for exposure to the melody that touched our lives are endless.

Every time I hear the song “I Started to Joke”, by the Bee Gees, I go back to the PAL (Police Athletic League) Club in uptown Harrisburg in 1968, when a chaperon at the event coerced me into dancing with a girl named Diane whom I previously didn’t know.

(Above Link:  The Bee Gees – I Started a Joke)

This was the first time in my life I had ever danced with anyone, and what an appropriate song! The dance was more of a walking shuffle in a circle around the room.

Six years later marked the next dancing experience that is burned into my memory. The year was 1974, my junior prom in high school. The song was “Colour My World” by Chicago, and I was dancing with a classmate I didn’t even take to the prom because the girl I took to the prom really didn’t want to be there with me. Nice girl, but I wasn’t her first choice in prom dates. I never did go to my senior prom, nor really learned how to dance.

(Above Link:  Chicago – Colour My World)

Music has a way of touching our emotions, possibly even reawakening the consciousness of those who may have lost touch with reality in today’s world. I’ve seen music change the focus of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. When a familiar song is played, they become calmer and sing along, tapping their hands or feet. Something cognitively appears to change.

My goal for this blog through The York Dispatch is to let you tell your stories, something about your life that is forever linked to an experience that is related to a song.

Email me at bobrudyblog@gmail.com with your stories, so I can interview you to bring your story to life in this blog and, as a result, inspire others to share the impact that music has had on their lives as well.

Some stories will include my deeper research into the current events of the world when the song was released.

Thanks for reading,

Bob