Monday, April 25, 2016

Tony Bennett, the Man Who Sings to all Generations

This blog is about Tony Bennett. Some of you may be thinking of his album with Lady Gaga, or his duets with  k. d. lang, I however I'm thinking of the Tony Bennett who's been in my life since the 1950s.

First off, I want to apologize for my entire generation. We took his song," Lady of Spain," and changed the lyrics. We sang  "Lady of Spain I adore you. Pull down your pants I'll explore you."

At that point, we were into rock 'n roll, and we perceived Tony was singing to our parents generation. Ah, what fools we.

He then sang,  "I left my heart in San Francisco," and so many loved that song. I met many people, when I was living in Germany, who would say the words to the song and say San Francisco was the one place they wanted to visit, out of all cities.

He always said, "I'm not about creating big songs, I'm about creating great albums."

One of his albums had this beautiful song called "When Joanna loved me." Every once in a while I think about that song and the feelings it evokes. The song  went," When Joanna loved me, every  town was Paris, every day was Sunday, every month was May." To me this song  encapsulates what true love is all about. Now Tony Bennett speaks to a new audience, in the same way he spoke to my parents in the last days of the Great American Songbook.

Carry on Mr. Bennett, for  you sing for the ages.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Who is an American?

There are always right-wingers who wanted to decide who is really an American, and who isn't. I suppose they'd agree I was, because I'm descended from two different Mayflower pilgrims.

But then I think that the late great James Garner and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, since they both have Cherokee blood, stand in front of me, along with all the other Native Americans.

Of course, my wife, who was born in Nanjing, is just as much an American as I am.

Donald Trump, whose father's last name was originally Drumpf, is only a third-generation American, but he gets to scream just as loud as someone whose family has been here longer.

America is stronger because it's a land of immigrants. When your ancestors got here is completely irrelevant. My daughter Allison's grandparents, who survived the Holocaust in Hungary, are some of the finest Americans I've ever met.

If you're lucky enough to have American citizenship, you're judged by what you do with it. If you contribute to making America stronger, more equal, or if you care for your fellow countrymen and make an effort on their behalf, you're a good American.

If you believe, as 20% of Trump supporters in South Carolina do, that we should still have slavery, then you are redneck bigot who America would be better without. Of course, I'm smart enough to know no one has the right to take their citizenship away from them.

If we'd just recognize that we're all in this together, and we rebuild our country every day, then everything could run smoother. Let's hope someday everybody understands that

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Looking for the Bluebird

As part of my campaign to keep us looking up as we deal with appalling presidential prospects within the Republican Party, I've found the song that might help. The song is 95 years old and was introduced on Broadway by a Jewish guy who sang in blackface. At the time it was introduced,Native Americans, African Americans and  Asian Americans did not have rights. It would take a lot more time in American history before they would be enfranchised.

Nevertheless, because of all the warts and horrible parts of our history, I'm an American and have to deal with the reality that white people were frequently wrong.

It was introduced on Broadway by Al Jolson in 1921. It sounds corny today, but it picked up the spirits of a lot of Americans who'd seen their country engulfed in the first world war.

Here's a sample of the lyrics:

                and when you see clouds upon the hills,

                you soon will see crowds of daffodils.

                So keep looking for a bluebird and listening to his song

                whenever April showers come along.

Today there is snow in upstate New York and Marlborough, Connecticut. Despite the fact that 20% of the voters for Trump in South Carolina believed we should still have slavery, we should take heart from the majority of Americans who don't want him to be president.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party that always hid behind the concept of "states rights" and other allusions which meant "keep the nigger's under control," now has a leading candidate who hates everyone who makes America a better place.

So keep looking for the bluebird and listening for his song, because this too shall pass. Most Americans want to be good people. We should have some faith in that.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Time to Stand Tall

After a morning of watching CNN and thinking of the danger Donald Trump poses to America, I got on my exercise bike. To keep me peddling I play movie soundtracks. The soundtrack from Gettysburg came on and I realized I had to see that movie.

Jeff Daniels, in his greatest role, played Joshua Chamberlain, who won the Medal of Honor for his bravery and leadership defending Little Round Top from a Confederate advance. Before the battle Chamberlain was very ill from dysentery and malaria. Despite that he knew the 20th Maine had to protect the Union army from being outflanked by the Confederates. When things got very dicey he ordered a bayonet charge against the Confederates.

Chamberlain went on to become the 32nd governor of Maine. Since he'd been a college professor before he volunteered, he eventually wound up as president of Bowdoin College.

Right now, I'm in the process of trying to find the movie Gettysburg on the Internet so I can watch it and let it help me recover from my morning listening to folks talk about Trump.

Even though I know it's not actual history, but inspired by it, I want to watch Saving Pvt. Ryan. I love my country and hope it doesn't fall into the hands of Trump or Cruz. Growing up in a Republican extended family, I looked to Lincoln as my hero. He still is up there, but I've added Mohammed Ali and John McCain to the triumvirate I admire. (I only wish McCain, a genuine hero, didn't want us to invade every country in trouble).

I'm a registered independent who almost always votes Democrat. (In California, you're allowed to ask for a Democratic ballot). As people who regularly read my blog know I'm descended from two Mayflower pilgrims. In four years my ancestors will have been in this country 400 years. I don't want it destroyed before that happens. I need to pick myself up and watch those movies and realize we've gone through tougher times before.