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.

flowers-in-the-dirt

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, knowing someone is unconditionally in my corner has made all the difference. My grandfather filled that role for me and I plan to do the same for my sons. Surely as they grow older their problems won’t be as easily resolved as they were as they are 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.

Given that it’s Memorial Day in the United States today’s Music Monday post is the appropriately titled song “Memorial Day” from the album “Going Out in Style” (affiliate link) by one of my favorite bands — Quincy, Massachusetts’ own Dropkick Murphys:

Of interest: the album on which this track appears, “Going Out in Style,” is a concept album combining the band member’s experiences and family folklore into the story of a fictional character named Cornelius Larkin.

According to the band’s bassist/vocalist, Ken Casey, “Cornelius has passed on to the other side, and the album becomes a retrospective of his life”.

If you’re not familiar with the band and their unique sound, Dropkick Murphys are an Irish-American Celtic Punk band that formed in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1996. Quincy was also the birthplace of former U.S. Presidents John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams, in addition to statesman John Hancock.

It is also adjacent to Braintree, Dropkick MurphysMassachusetts — which is where I lived for the first three years of my life.

As for the band, you might be familiar with their 2004 single “Tessie” — an EP release (affiliate link) which was their first and one of their biggest charting singles.

The original song on which it was based is the longtime anthem of the Boston Red Sox. The Dropkick Murphy’s EP of the song was used as a fan anthem for the Boston Red Sox historic 2004 and 2007 World Series victories.

If you’re not familiar with “Tessie” you have almost certainly heard the popular track off of “The Warrior’s Code” (affiliate link) and one of the band’s biggest singles: “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.”

Notably, this song was featured in the Academy Award-winning movie “The Departed“(affiliate link). It is also frequently used as an anthem for Boston sports teams.

Wishing you a wicked pissah Music Monday!

If you believed they put a man on the moon…

Today’s Music Monday is inspired by celestial events that occurred yesterday evening: the “ring of fire” solar eclipse! What was this?

According to an article about this event (which hasn’t happened since 1994), ” the moon will cover up to 94 percent of the sun at the eclipse’s peak, leaving a bright ring of light – called an annulus, which means ring-like — around the moon’s disc, NASA scientists said.”

I experienced the eclipse near my home in Southern California and, while I couldn’t actually see or get detailed pictures, the sun was significantly dimmer and, unsurprisingly, the temperature was much cooler than the near 100 degrees it had felt like prior to the eclipse. One of my photos follows below:

Solar Eclipse Over Suburbia #3

“Skyshine #Eclipse”Interestingly, although I was unable to see the eclipse, I can partially make it out in a refraction in the picture to the right (which I posted via Instagram).

Just as this “ring of fire” eclipse hadn’t happened for 18 years, the next one also won’t occur for quite some time: 11 years from now in 2023. As explained in a Reuters article, the extended time delay between these events is due to a phenomenon that requires a particular set of orbital dynamics.

Some additional information from the Reuters article: “An annular eclipse occurs when the moon’s orbit is at its furthest point from the Earth and closer to the much larger sun. That juxtaposition allows the moon to block more than 90 percent of the sun’s rays when the two orbs slide into alignment in space.”

The eclipse was quite a captivating and compelling event; something unique that brought people together.  Social media was abuzz with information and imageryTwitter search is a great way to virtually experience the solar eclipse while viewing a variety of photos and videos documenting it.

In celebration of this unique and engaging event (and the memory of something personal that occurred on this date), the classic 1980s power ballad “Total Eclipse of the Heart” seemed like an appropriate selection:

Written and produced by Jim Steinman and recorded by Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler for her album Faster Than the Speed of Night (affiliate link), the song was first released as a single in 1983.

The song is Tyler’s biggest hit reaching number one in the United States and several other countries, making her the first and sole Welsh singer to reach the top of the Billboard Charts.

Maybe for the next lunar eclipse I will feature “Moonshadow” by Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) — or perhaps “Moon River?” 😉

A classic proverb states that two heads are better than one, so in that same spirit, two songs must be better than one. Accordingly, today’s Music Monday presents a double header.

David ByrneToday’s first selection is “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads. This was chosen to celebrate the 60th birthday of David Byrne (who co-wrote it with Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth).

Originally released on February 2, 1981 as the first single from the Talking Heads’ fourth studio album Remain in Light (Affiliate Link), the song has since received critical acclaim. Notably, it was named as one of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century by National Public Radio (NPR).

The song is existential in meaning, especially with the main refrain asking “And you may ask yourself / How do I work this? / And you may ask yourself / Where is that large automobile? / And you may tell yourself / This is not my beautiful house! / And you may tell yourself / This is not my beautiful wife!”

I believe this song tells the story of a man finding himself a foreigner in his own life; having having accumulated a certain degree of wealth and comfort, yet feeling fundamentally unfulfilled.

At the same time, it is also a recognition of that discovery and the possibility of progressing towards a positive change it represents.

For quite some time I related to the first part of this song — I felt like that man. But then, after some self discovery, I took responsibility for my choices and changed the direction of my life. As a result, I am now heading positively “into the blue again/after the moneys gone.”

In an unrelated yet equally interesting TEDTalk, Byrne discusses the influence of architecture on musical composition. He offers compelling examples of various types of music throughout history such as African music, classical music, opera, jazz, rock, hip-hop, and nature itself.

Today’s second selection, “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” by The Beatles, celebrates the 28th birthday of Facebook Chairman and Mark ZuckerbergCEO Mark Zuckerberg. The song was featured at the end of  the Facebook-inspired movie The Social Network (Affiliate Link).

Long before Facebook was programmed the song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and recorded on May 11, 1967 (45 years and 3 days ago). It was originally released as the B-side of the single “All You Need Is Love” and was also included later that same year on the US album Magical Mystery Tour (Affiliate Link).

Beyond the convergence of Zuckerberg’s birthday to today’s date, Facebook is representative of my aforementioned change of course and journey into the blue again (see Once in a Lifetime).

Personally, my life has been both challenged and enriched by Facebook (and social media in general). Professionally, now almost all of the courses I teach include elements of social media directly or indirectly.

One course — MGMNT X 460.394, New Media Marketing at UCLA Extension — provides an overview of leading social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.  If you’re interested, an online offering of this course begins on July 5, 2012 — you can enroll online here!

Fittingly, and in thematic accordance with this song, later this week, once Facebook’s IPO takes place, Zuckerberg will need an even bigger brown bag in which to keep all of his money. Netting at least $21 billion in stock might just be the best birthday present ever!

Although Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, whose struggle with Zuckerberg was portrayed in The Social Network (Affiliate Link) and who has renounced his US citizenship, might just get the last financial laugh as his renunciation of his citizenship will likely save him tens of millions of dollars in capital gains taxesor will it?

Baby, those are rich men!

One of the reasons I enjoy being a teacher is that, in ways large and small, I can make a positive difference in the lives of others — just as many of my own teachers have done for me. Today’s Music Monday investigates this idea.

For me, one teacher — Professor Eloise Hay — who I only knew briefly in 1996 during my last class at UCSB made an impact on me, though I wasn’t initially aware of her influence when it happened. (I was too concerned with graduating).

William BlakeIt was in this class — English 40, English Literature 1800 to 1900 — that I was first introduced, at least academically, to William Blake.  Since then I have always felt an emotional and creative connection with Blake, and his imaginative interpretation of humanity.

My interest in Blake inspired me to launch “WilliamBlake.com – Cybersongs of Innocence.” While it has not yet evolved into the resource I envisioned, I hope to eventually expand it into a user-created Wiki (as time and resources allow).

Why I mention this is that it was on this date  — April 30, 1996 — that Professor Hay died of inoperable brain cancer. Although I only had her for that one class, and never knew her beyond the 12 weeks of my last quarter at UCSB, I remain grateful for the opportunity to have learned about such a wonderful craftsman of creativity as William Blake.

One of Blake’s more famous works is a short poem titled “And did those feet in ancient time”  which can be found in the preface to his epic 1804 work Milton a Poem, one of his collection of Prophetic Books. Today this short piece is more commonly known as the anthem “Jerusalem” — for which, in 1916, Hubert Parry wrote the music to accompany Blake’s words.

The theme of the poem is that, during his lost years, Jesus travelled to (what is now) England and visited Glastonbury. The song is a popular English anthem and is performed at various events each year — including the April 29, 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (another coincidence and reason why I share this song on this date).

Although I am not religious, I appreciate the works of Blake and find the song based on his poem inspiring and uplifting. There are many versions of it available online, but I selected a more modern version of it as performed by the English rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer below:

For reference, the text of Blake’s poem follows:

And did those feet in ancient time.

Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green & pleasant Land.

To blog, or not to blog: that is the question.

Edutopia: Teachers Shake Up Shakespeare with Digital MediaSince William Shakespeare died on this date in 1616 — and is widely thought to have been born on the same date in 1564 — it seemed fitting for today’s Music Monday post to shine the spotlight on the famous Bard of Avon.

After some searching, I discovered the TEDxTalk Video below that features hip-hop artist and founder of of the The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company, Kingslee “Akala” Daley.

While not entirely music in the true sense of Music Monday, in the video, Daley connects modern hip-hop music with Shakespeare’s melodic rhymes and also discusses the wider cultural debate about the power of language.

Similarly, a recent Edutopia article titled “Teachers Shake Up Shakespeare with Digital Media,” explores how teachers are now using digital technology and social media to help their students understand and embrace Shakespeare. In response to a subject students typically bemoan as boring, they are eagerly creating raps, podcasts, and short films.

According to the article, “Teachers are finding that allowing students to emulate the playwright and make the text their own gets them more excited to learn the plays…Having students perform is the key to learning Shakespeare effectively, and video and audio tools enhance that performance for today’s learners.”

Given the above, it is only fitting to proclaim: if music be the food of love, play on!