Paul McCartney with His Daughter Mary Anna McCartney (c. 1970)Since yesterday was Father’s Day in the United States, today’s Music Monday celebrates the special bond between dads and their kids.

There are many songs that capture this unique relationship, but a song that was always powerful and poignant to me was one of Paul McCartney’s lesser known pieces: Put it There.

Released in 1990 as a single to McCartney’s 1989 album, Flowers in the Dirt (affiliate link), the song reached number 32 on the UK singles chart.

McCartney’s eighth solo studio album, Flowers in the Dirt was considered a major return as its release inaugurated his first world tour since his Wings Over the World tour in 1975/1976. The album’s musical quality was widely celebrated, earning McCartney his best reviews in years.

I share the same thoughts as those reviews, having always found the album beautifully written and masterfully performed. Notably, the album has added meaning because I attended the April 1, 1990 show of the Paul McCartney World Tour at UC Berkeley‘s California Memorial Stadium. I even found a setlist from the concert (complete with links to YouTube clips of each song performed)!

Having always found “Put it There” a touching tribute to a unique father/son relationship, the track took on added meaning when I became a dad to my two sons. If you listen to the lyrics (and/or read them — they are included below), you will understand the sweet, yet understated emotion of what the song is communicating: unconditional love.

Sometimes, as the song explains, simply having someone to hold your hand can fix any problem — or at least make you feel better while you confront it. Shamefully, the importance of fathers is often overlooked, but at least in my experience, my father (and, in fairness, my stepmother too) has made all the difference in my life recently.

In my own experience, merely knowing someone is unconditionally in my corner has made all the difference when I find myself in times of trouble.

My own father fills that role for me and I plan to do the same for my sons as they encounter life’s myriad challenges. Surely as they grow older their problems won’t be as easily resolved as they were as they are now as children, but knowing they are loved and supported without question will always be essential to their well being.

Although my connection with my Dad was, unfortunately, interrupted for several years, I am grateful to have a renewed relationship with him. I am also thankful my sons can “put it there” — not just with me, but with my Dad as well.  Likewise, I look forward to continuing this tradition with my son’s children in the future.

And so, if you are thankful for your father, put it there!

Put it There Lyrics

Give Me Your Hand I’d Like To Shake It
I Want To Show You I’m Your Friend.
You’ll Understand If I Can Make It Clear
Its All That Matters In The End.
Put It There If It Weighs A Ton,
That’s What The Father Said To His Younger Son.
I Don’t Care If It Weighs A Ton,
As Long As You And I Are Here, Put It There.
Long As You And I Are Here, Put It There.

If There’s A Fight I’d Like To Fix It,
I Hate To See Things Go So Wrong.
The Darkest Night And All It’s Mixed Emotions,
Is Getting Lighter Sing A Song.

When you first hear the phrases “Miami Heat” and “Oklahoma City Thunder” do you assume someone is talking about the weather?

nba-finals-logo

Well, if you do, you would be wrong. As right as that might sound, you would, in fact be wrong: On Tuesday, June 12, 2012 the NBA Finals (the  the championship series of the National Basketball Association) begin with the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle SuperSonics) vying for the title.

For full disclosure: I am a Boston Celtics fan so, given that the Heat beat them to advance to the championship game, I am rooting for the Thunder (my enemy’s enemy is my friend). Although, last year I was also rooting against the Heat and for the Dallas Mavericks, so maybe I am just not a fan of “heat” in general? Well, maybe if it is a “dry heat.”

Allegiances aside, the one aspect to this match-up that, as a writer and teacher, I find fascinating, is that the names of both teams are what is called a “collective noun.”

According to Grammar Girl, collective nouns — of which there are approximately 200 that take a singular or a plural verb — are “nouns that describe a group, such as ‘family,’ ‘orchestra,’ and ‘board.'” Another source further explains “collective nouns, a special class, name groups [things] composed of members [usually people].”

One of the fundamental aspects to collective nouns is that Americans generally treat them as single units (e.g. “the faculty is meeting today”) whereas in England, they are considered plural units (e.g. “Cambridge are winning the boat race.”).

According to another source: “the names of sports teams, on the other hand, are treated as plurals, regardless of the form of that name.” Therefore, you would write “the Boston Red Sox are the best baseball team in the world” and not “the Boston Red Sox is the best baseball team in the world” (another disclosure: I am a Red Sox fan).

Likewise when you refer to a team by the city in which it is located, you use the singular form of the noun: “Boston has attempted to secure the services of two assistant coaches that New York hopes to keep.”

For reasons beyond my knowledge there seems to be a growing trend towards sports teams using names that are collective nouns. But why? Perhaps there are a finite number of traditional plural nouns after which you can name a team?

A list of some teams from U.S. professional sports leagues —  Arena Football League (AFL), Major League Soccer (MLS), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) — and a couple of noteworthy college teams whose names are collective nouns include the following:

  • Atlanta Dream (WNBA)
  • Chicago Fire (MLS)
  • Chicago Rush (AFL)
  • Chicago Sky (WNBA)
  • Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
  • Columbus Crew (MLS)
  • Connecticut Sun (WNBA)
  • D.C. United (MLS)
  • Georgia Force (AFL)
  • Harvard Crimson
  • Houston Dynamo (MLS)
  • Indiana Fever (WNBA)
  • Kansas City Command (AFL)
  • Miami Heat (NBA)
  • Minnesota Wild (NHL)
  • Montreal Impact (MLS)
  • New England Revolution (MLS)
  • New Orleans VooDoo (AFL)
  • New York Liberty (WNBA)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA)
  • Orlando Magic (NBA)
  • Philadelphia Soul (AFL)
  • Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)
  • Pittsburg Power (AFL)
  • Seattle Storm (WNBA)
  • Spokane Shock (AFL)
  • Stanford Cardinal
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL)
  • Tampa Bay Storm (AFL)
  • Tulsa Shock (WNBA)
  • Utah Blaze (AFL)
  • Utah Jazz (NBA)

I am by no means a grammar expert, despite my having earned a BA in English (with a creative writing emphasis) from UC Santa Barbara. However, having been writing since as far back as I can remember, I have a general feel for what would be considered “good” grammar. And, while they might be perfectly proper grammatically speaking, collective nouns as team names just sound awkward to me.

From a branding perspective, in my opinion, these types of team names sound odd. I believe a team name simply sounds better as a standard plural noun. Maybe I am “old school” but then again, if you look at the preponderance of team names that are collective nouns they are generally associated with newer organizations.

Another common preference in team names is alliteration — when you use words that sound the same (e.g. Boston Bruins — again, for full disclosure, I am a fan), so, given that, perhaps there are a limited number of options to achieve that branding goal?

Maybe I am the only one — or one of very few — who noticed this trend in team names, but it nevertheless strikes me as something about which a discussion is at least relevant. Is it something you previously noticed and about which you wondered?

Speaking of Grammar: if you are not a fan of either team in this year’s NBA Finals, consider watching the 2000 movie Company Man (affiliate link) instead. According to Wikipedia, the plot of the film is as follows:

In the 1960s, Alan Quimp is a school teacher of English grammar and married with the very demanding woman Daisy Quimp. In order to avoid the constant mockery in Daisy’s family, Alan says that he is a secret CIA agent. Daisy tells everybody, the CIA acknowledges the lie, but due to a coincidence, Alan has just helped and hidden the professional Russian dancer Petrov who wanted to leave Russia. The CIA decides to hire Alan as an agent, to get the credits of bringing Petrov to USA, and immediately decides to send him to a very calm place, Cuba.

A humorous, grammar-laden scene from the film follows — enjoy:

So, in regards to (with regard to?) the information above, who (whom?) do you want to win the 2012 NBA Finals?

“Won’t you please, won’t you please, Please won’t you be my neighbor?”

Today’s Music Monday was inspired by a viral video currently making the rounds — from PBS of all places: “Mister Rogers Remixed: Garden of Your Mind” by Symphony of Science’s John Boswell.

The video is a tribute to the iconic show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood — which was created and hosted by its namesake Fred Rogers. Mister Rogers was always intriguing in his own unique way, but he was never this cool!

The video, which was originally uploaded on Thursday, June 7 to the YouTube account “PBSDigitalStudios,” had already received more than 1.4 million views by the end of Friday, June 8 (and had reached more than 3.4 million by the morning of Monday, June 11) — that’s viral! Someone has even already registered the domainGardenOfYourMind.com!”

How did this video come to be? Here is a bit of background on it (from the video’s page on the PBSDigitalStudios YouTube Channel):

“When we discovered video mash-up artist John D. Boswell, aka melodysheep, on YouTube, we immediately wanted to work together. Turns out that he is a huge Mister Rogers Neighborhood fan, and was thrilled at the chance to pay tribute to one of our heroes. Both PBS and the Fred Rogers Company hope you like John’s celebration of Fred Rogers’ message. This is the first in a series of PBS icons remixed.”

Mister Roger’s NeighborhoodFor those who remember watching Mister Rogers as children, this video has special significance. The show initially aired in 1968 and rand for 895 episodes, with the final episodes having been filmed in December 2000 and airing the following August. It reached its peak viewership in 1985, when 8% of households in the United States were watching the show.

For those less familiar with the show — and even for those who are, but who might appreciate a walk down memory lane — here are some fun facts about the show and Fred Rogers (courtesy of Wikipedia):

  • Each episode began with Mister Rogers coming home, singing his theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?“and changing into sneakers and a zippered cardigan sweater.
  • In a typical episode, Mister Rogers might have a conversation with his television audience, interact with live guests, take a field trip to such places as a bakery or a music store, or watch a short film. Typically, each week’s episode explored a major theme, such as going to school for the first time. He even break-danced!
  • Each episode included a trip to Rogers’ “Neighborhood of Make-Believe” featuring the ever-famous trolley with its own theme song, a castle, and the kingdom’s citizens, including King Friday XIII.
  • Mister Rogers often fed his fish — originally named Fennel and Frieda — during episodes.
  • Originally, most episodes ended with a song entitled “Tomorrow”, and Friday episodes looked forward to the week ahead with an adapted version of “It’s Such a Good Feeling.” In later seasons, all episodes ended with “Feeling.” Speaking of the song “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” consider this unique cover of the classic Mister Rogers’ song.

“Would you be mine, Could you be mine…”