Friday, June 29, 2012

Mike's Deserted Island Songs - Part 3

Back Again with another of Mike's favorites.  You know the routine, so let's get going.
  •  Harry Chapin
    A Better Place To Be

 I saw Harry in Davenport in concert and will always feel lucky since he died a year later.  Harry's songs were mini-movies in 5 minutes.  A true storyteller, most of his songs came out of true events he read about or experienced.  Listen to this one and I guarantee you'll choke down a mental tear.  Harry is forgotten and his music is not in vogue anymore, but for a few years he was a god.  Playing half of his dates for free (Or World Hunger Organization) he was a troubadour, a throwback to an earlier time.  Video lurches every so often so just slide the bar forward to get it going again.   Not a gifted singer, his voice was a bit strained on some notes, but damn, he could tell a good story.  Pure heart stuff here, folks.

  •   Procol Harum

      A Whiter Shade of Pale

Classic song that is Bach-like in its soaring organ riffs, this one is operatic and unforgettable.
Lyrics are famously just a jumble of concepts and images set to music.  According to one of the authors it "deals in metaphorical form with a male/female relationship which after some negotiation ends in a sexual act."  
No shit and if you listen close enough you can hear the climax.  I swear.

  • Led Zeppelin
  Stairway To Heaven

No one who lived in the 70's could possibly exclude this on their lists.  It is as 70's hippiedom as any song ever created.  Impossible to characterize, harder to understand, even Led Zeppelin don't know what it is.  Smoked pot with this in the background, and its 8 or 9 minutes length just added to the endless quality of time.  See, time has no relevance with this song or grass.  This was owned by Mark Neish back in my college days in the dorm and he played it almost around the clock on weekends.  Drugs, sex, rock and roll. If there is a song that embodies it all, this is it. Soft and gentle it keeps ramping up as it goes along.  Starting with almost a whisper, it reaches a crescendo with mournful bellowing that is scary but eternal.  Best rock song EVER?  Probably.

  • Elton John

Someone Saved My Life Tonight

Elton is flamboyant in a Liberace sort of way.  It is too bad because he had some good music.  Think of Elton John and images of giant feathered head pieces, ridiculous glasses and a swishy exterior.  You don't think about his music first.  This song is reminiscent of the magical John-Taupin collaboration.  I could have picked Your Song or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.  But, ultimately, this is a more personal tune that speaks to all of us on those lonely nights when we think we haven't a friend in the world.

17   Foreigner

I Want To Know What Love Is

The song that destroyed Foreigner, this one is their best, and probably one of the 10 best of the decade.  Sometimes genius just happens, and this one was it.  Misunderstood by their fans at the time, it is now a classic played on elevators and FM stations round the clock.  Yelling yearning, with a measured dollop of beseeching questioning, this is great.  Nice and long so you can build mood and sustain it, this is one of those wonderful 'Vert tunes to listen to as your are cruising down the road alone late when you think you are the only one in the world.  Great background singing, too.  Almost without peer.  

  • All By Myself

Eric Carmen

Carmen was a member of the Raspberries and we already know what I think of them.  He went off on his own and wrote this one.  A structurally odd song but it possesses one of the greatest note reaches EVER.

  •  Cat Stevens

      How Can I Tell You

Cat Stevens' How Can I Tell You is one of my faces.  Not usually in the top 2 or 3 of Cat's stuff, this one is nevertheless a gentle song that packs a wallop.  Below is another Cat tune, that, surprisingly isn't big for me.

While not one of my favorites, this Cat Stevens standard was huge with the touchy-feely set back in the day. I had just arrived at graduate school in Denver and during the first day of orientation we were told to hold hands and they played this song. I just about left and headed home after that. First, I don't hold hands...with anyone. Second, the Cat Man is a passionate person and wrote from his heart, but this is so sticky drippy with love/hope/hugs/kisses/world peace that it has almost become irrelevant.  Here is Morning Has Broken.

  • The Skyliners

Since I Don't Have You

This is a Do-Wop song that I honestly don't know how it got on this list or why I like it so much.  It is waaaay older than my formative years.  Perhaps American Gaffiti brought it to my attention.  DO NOT LISTEN, or you'll be humming it all day.  You'll be banging your head on the wall trying to get it out of your noggin.  This is seriously old, but cool in an old sort of way.

  • Bon Jovi


Bon Jovi has some good stuff.  It's well written and pretty soulful.  The ultimate music I had to have when I was cursing in my convertible, I couldn't leave home without my stash of BJ.    This ballad is a true love song.  No loss, no heartache, it's just a simple ode to love.

  • Meat Loaf 

2 Outta 3 Ain't Bad

Originator and Master of the Rock Opera, my main man, Meat, had this classic from perhaps the best album in the history of music, Bat Out of Hell.  By the way, I have tickets to see Meat Loaf on August 15 in Clearwater.  It will be my 3rd time seeing him.  I have been to 4 concerts in my life.

We will wrap this up next week with my final picks as well as the best albums EVER!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sunken Gardens - Part 3

We will end our stay at the renowned Sunken Gardens today with some more pictures of the place.  It is a nice leisurely walk amongst flora (and some fauna), koi ponds, and pretty cool landscaping.  In the heart of town, it is a nice way to get away from it all.  What they need, however, is a beer cart or Bloody Mary wagon to help parched wanderers navigate the place.   

There is someone's hand to give you perspective on the size of these guys.  

Setting up for a wedding party later in the day.

Someone sprinkling flower petals on the tables.  This would be a stunning place for a wedding and reception.  

Well that's it.  St. Petersburg's Sunken Gardens is a must-see for folks who like a quiet unrushed walk amongst beautiful flowers, trickling ponds and creeks.    

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sunken Gardens - Part 2

Welcome back and just like yesterday, I'll be still and you can tour on your own. I may comment of something here and there, but otherwise just ignore me hovering over your shoulder.

Monster koi and carp that were three or four times the size of ours back in G-Burg.

Can't see it very well but there was a huge turtle under this log.

Tangled roots everywhere.

Well, just one more day and you can all go about your way.  Class dismissed today but be back bright and early for the final day of the World Famous Sunken Gardens.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sunken Gardens - Part 1

OK, St. Petersburg's Sunken gardens wasn't exactly on the top of the list for things I wanted to do. I used to have a back yard full of flowers, 3 ponds, landscaping and such. Granted, nothing on the Sunken Garden's scale but pretty neat anyway. But, the girls had hinted endlessly so I said, sure, let's go.  And you know, it far surpassed my feeble expectations.  It isn't a local famous landmark for nothing.  It is a pretty neat place and I will devote a three postings to it this week.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the Sunken Gardens.

Ever seeking the spotlight, your loyal blogger hogs the welcome sign.

The newlyweds posing. 

The opening pond area that gets you ready for a spectacular splash of color and meandering streams.

Norah's first visit.

"two roads diverged in a yellow wood..."

I think I'll just shut up and let you walk and enjoy by yourself.  Unless, of course, I find it necessary to say something.

I know you have better things to do, so go ahead, class dismissed and be back here tomorrow.