December 22, 2017

[Ed. note: It doesn't feel much like Christmas in my spirit this year, but some traditions you just can't let go of, can you? If the National Enquirer, or Us, or The Worldly World News, or whatever the heck that supermarket tabloid had on its cover is correct, this might be the last "Holiday Ode" post that will post while Phil Spector is alive. Supposedly, he's only got six weeks to live. But that's what they said last year, didn't they? Anyways, doesn't matter, maybe some people can't separate the talent and legacy from the person who inhabits it, but I can. So Merry Christmas, Phil - you're still a musical hero of mine, and you changed the way pop music commemorated the season.]

That’s right, cats and chicks of all ages, it’s that time of year again. I know the guy’s still sitting in a prison cell, whacked out, burned out, and for all intents and purposes checked out of society and the rock n’ roll world he was once such an iconic part of. But heck, it is the Christmas season and I know it’s not REALLY Christmas until I slap into my CD player the best damned rock n’ roll Christmas record of all time. Which is (for those of you cats and chicks who may not be hip to these kinds of grooves), Phil Spector’s magnificent “A Christmas Gift For You”.

I know what you’re thinking – that’s just The Great White Shank spoutin’ his “yeah-i-know-he’s-in-jail-for-murder-but-believe-me-Phil-Spector-really-was-a-genius” bull$hit, but in this case you need to give me a break. ‘Cause it’s not just me, it’s a whole range of critics across the media spectrum, from Rolling Stone (who rated it #142 in its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time), to bloggers like Hip Christmas and BlogCritics. BC’s praise of the album and its greatness is especially spot-on:

A Christmas Gift For You contains thirteen performances, all captured during that incredible early sixties period when Spector was producing these amazing records. You already know all of the songs, as they have all become tried and true radio staples at Christmas time over the years. Song for song, the wall of sound production — with all of its bells, whistles, and strings — captures all the magic and wonder of Christmas like very little music I can think of. When you hear these songs, it’s like being instantly transported to a kinder, simpler time. It really does feel like Christmas.

In addition to the Ronettes and Crystals classics already mentioned, the standouts here include Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and a version of “White Christmas” so gorgeous you’ll be checking your window for snowflakes. On Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans’ “The Bells of Saint Mary,” the bells and the castanets ring gloriously amid a swirl of gospel-charged backing vocals.

So the thing is, Phil Spector’s recent legal troubles aside, this record just doesn’t sound any different to me. For my money, it’s still the single greatest Christmas record ever made. And tougher sell that it may be these days, it will definitely be on my CD player when the guys and I get together for some Christmas cheer next weekend.

For me, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it.

The album, considered by many to be Spector’s finest piece of collective work (The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”, The Righteous Brothers’ “(You’ve Lost That) Lovin’ Feelin’”, and, of course, Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” being singular achievements), had a bumpy ride on the road to becoming a much-loved and respected holiday pop classic. Originally recorded during the summer and fall of 1963, it was understandably overlooked in those tragic weeks following the assassination of JFK and then virtually forgotten. It was only until its re-introduction to the public on the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1971 – at the urging of John Lennon and George Harrison (both of whom utilized Spector on their first post-Beatles’ solo albums following his work on Let It Be) – that the album got radio play and finally earned its long-deserved place in pop music history.

So what exactly is it about A Christmas Gift For You that makes it both a holiday pop classic and a piece of work sufficient enough to warrant recognition among rock’s all-time greatest works? David Sprague, in his Amazon.com review, puts it simply: “[Spector's] “wall-of-sound” technique is perfectly suited to the music of the season, as he proves with layer upon layer of piano, sleigh bells, buoyant percussion, and, of course, those legendary Spectorsound harmonies.”

True enough, but it’s only after you buy it and crank it up VERY loud that you start to appreciate not just the massive sound Spector lovingly and painstakingly crafted, but the way his session players and musical artists make the most out of the material given them. Here, Spector’s artists The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love, and Bobby Sheen are simply vocal instruments in the overall mix, working within the material and the arrangements, not overpowering them. Listen closely, and you begin to see how the subtleties within each arrangement illustrate Spector’s respect for both the material and the genre that brought him such fame and respect in his day:

* On “White Christmas”, Darlene Love’s lead is beautifully understated (something virtually unheard of in this post-Whitney armageddon of Britneys and Christinas who sound like wailing alleycats in heat). And listen to how the pianos, basses, and saxes (alto and tenor) underscore the rhythm, and how beautifully they finish the song’s fade-out. Magical.

* On “Frosty The Snowman”, Ronnie Spector takes a harmless children’s tune and turns it into a holiday pop masterpiece. Her earnest vocal is the showpiece here – think ‘Frosty’ meets ‘Be My Baby’, with enough warmth and sweetness to turn ‘the Frostster’ into a puddle of lukewarm H2O. Loved hearing it in that iconic scene in GoodFellas where Jimmy goes nuts with everyone buying expensive stuff after the Lufthansa heist.

* On “The The Bells of St. Mary’s“, Bobby Sheen’s lead is sweet and soulful out in front of a driving rhythm highlighted by chimes and Hal Blaine‘s amazing drumwork on the fade-out. Oh, and that’s Darlene Love doing the “yeah, yeah”‘s towards the end.

* The Crystals’ version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” rejuvenated the classic so much so that the artists as varied as the Jackson 5 (ugh!) and Bruce Springsteen, among others, felt it necessary to pay it homage with their own versions. Listen for how the bells tinkle out Brahms’s Lullaby behind La La Brooks’ spoken intro – talk about attention to detail!

* On “Sleigh Ride” The Ronettes give a big fat wet kiss to Leroy Anderson’s classic arrangement; their now-classic “ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding” back-up is pure icing on this sweet holiday confection.

* “Marshmallow World” is a fun piece – dig the opening piano with an absolute ton of echo on it. And listen to how the saxes underscore the piano/guitar rhythm – you’re talkin’ Wall of Sound here, baby! The mix has always sounded a little muddy to me, but I think that’s just the sheer number of musicians playing at the same time – Phil always did his mixing live while the entire ensemble was playing. Darlene Love’s vocal is energetic and playful, a great performance.

* “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. You don’t get the #2 slot on my Top 10 Christmas list for nothing. Simply put, there is nothing wanting in this recording – the performances are top-notch throughout. Ronnie Spector’s lead is both devilish and sexy, and the arrangement rocks. Listen for the piano fills and the sleighbells workin’ behind the saxes. It almost sounds as if Ronnie is slurring her s’s here (‘kishing’ Santa Claus); I think she’s doing it deliberately so I fall in love with her voice all over again every year at this time.

* On “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, listen for the guitar riff (Tommy Tedesco? Barney Kessel?) that frames the song throughout, a style similar to what Brian Wilson would later employ on The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” a couple of years later. There’s also a piano (and guitar?) doing something funky from the instrumental break onward, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is.

* “Winter Wonderland” is a faithful and fun rendition. Listen for those trademark shimmering strings featured throughout – they sound kinda funky to me – and how drummer Hal Blaine absolutely beats the daylights out of his toms on every fill. Darlene Love’s vocal is both soulful and fun. A magnificent arrangement.

* “Parade of The Wooden Soldiers”. OK, listen to how the strings behind The Crystals’ rollicking performance absolutely shimmer like glistening snow, especially behind the trumpet solo in the middle. No one – and I mean NO ONE – could make Christmas pop music like Phil Spector. (If you doubt me, just listen to John & Yoko’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”) Again, Hal Blaine’s drum fills on the fade-out are pretty intense.

* “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)”. Arguably the showpiece of the album. If you want a true holiday audio feast, come inside Mr. Spector’s kitchen where everything – including the kitchen sink – has been tossed in here. Shimmering strings and double acoustic bass (how does he get that sound?) create the necessary tension, then horns introduce a TOTALLY PUMPED and unleashed Darlene Love vocal that leaves nothing – and I do mean NOTHING – in the tank. The grand build-up to close the song is classic Spector: layers and layers of guitar, piano, strings, and percussion back the call-and-answer vocals between Love and the backup singers (a seventeen-year-old Cher‘s voice can be clearly heard) until the tension is finally released in a tidal wave of vocal calisthenics, soaring strings, drum fills, and piano arpeggios. Simply put, one of the great pop vocal performances of all time.

* “Here Comes Santa Claus” is anticlimactic following Love’s tour de force, but it’s to Bobby Sheen’s credit that his straight, if understated, reading becomes the showpiece on this song. The trumpet solo in the middle has a ringing, jazzy touch to it which compliments Sheen’s soulful vocal.

What truly makes A Christmas Gift For You such a remarkable achievement is the success Spector achieved in fusing together what was then a radical way of interpreting familiar holiday songs without, as he would write in the album’s liner notes, “losing for a second the feeling of Christmas and without destroying or invading the sensitivity and the beauty that surrounds all of the great Christmas music.” More than anything else, Spector respected the music he was trying to interpret as his own. In the end, this is what makes this work an enduring classic for the ages.Geez.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 07:55 | Comments (2)
December 21, 2017

It’s the shortest day of the year, the issues at work go on and on and on, and I’m slowly being ground into pulp. We have a nice Christmas tree this year, the stores play Christmas music incessantly (although that will end, like, around 6 PM on Christmas Day so the stores can start getting ready for Valentine’s Day), and lots of folks have their lights up but there’s no sense of Christmas here in my office. While I was on Florida the twins decorated the house and Tracey put a cardinal ornament that had lost its string on my desk; otherwise, one wouldn’t even know Christmas is just around the corner.

My office mate Peach the rabbit sure doesn’t care about Christmas – but I also don’t think he’s crazy about someone pounding away at the keys in the wee small hours of the morning. Right now the best I can do is grab a few hours here and there while my team flails away at trying to get things at least somewhat stable. In work terms it’s like having a series of nor’easters continually piling up the snow and the snow keeps falling as you keep shoveling and losing ground. Fortunately, our company has holidays on Friday and Monday so the weekend will allow us to staff just enough to keep things moving before it all starts up again next Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get a full break from this. I know I won’t.

I don’t want to give the impression that it’s just me having to go through all this: my boss and my team in India are having to work the same kind of long and strange hours – believe me, they’re just as committed (a.k.a. “stuck”) in helping the company out of this mess as I am. One of these days I’ll do a post (in general terms, of course) about this whole experience without naming names or companies or people, but that will have to wait until things settle down.

There’s not much else to say. I can’t remember what my trip to Vegas was like, can’t remember what it’s like to play golf or even hit balls. While I see President Trump (it still feels strange typing that) finally got Congress to push a tax cut plan through I haven’t had the time to see what’s going on around me culturally or politically. I’m guessing the hockey season has started – not that I would even notice if it had. It’s just the most bizarre set of circumstances I’ve ever experienced from a work perspective. Time has ceased to exist beyond the world of my laptop.

And so it’s in that spirit of things that I leave you with this Shawn Colvin tune. Kinda conveys the same sad and lonely state in which life is lived right now.

A big “thank you” to everyone for all the kind comments on my last post. I just saw them logging in to compose this. It lifts my spirits to know others care about something I do even if we all come from different political perspectives and persuasions. Sooner or later things will get back on track, but it sure won’t be anything I’ll ever be able to look back on and be able to laugh about.

Back to work…

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December 15, 2017

Apologies are due for the lack of posts, but you wouldn’t believe the last two weeks I’ve had. My company is doing a major project in Florida that has gone off the rails. And it was because of that, that I received a frantic text while in the middle of nowheresville between Las Vegas and Phoenix requesting I head to Florida the very next day. Since then it has been nonstop 16-hour days helping to get that project back on track. Never mind blogging – I’ve had a hard time trying to find time to even sleep. It looks like it’s going to be several days yet before I can breathe so if you’re a frequent (or not so frequent) visitor to this site I ask your patience until things return to some semblance of normal.

Heckuva way to spend a holiday season!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:30 | Comments (3)
November 24, 2017

Well, it’s Black Friday (as they call it) but I’m not going anywhere near a shopping mall or retail store. Instead, I’ll be bashing a little orange ball around a sun-splashed course under unseasonably-warm, 90 degrees-ish blue skies. But it doesn’t mean I can’t post a few thoughts to catch up after what has been a crazy week work-wise that has left me practically no time for anything else.

…hard to believe it’s the holiday season and the next day it won’t be a holiday season day we’ll be in 2018. I don’t feel as if this year has rocketed by that fast, but then again maybe it has.

..this video made me laugh out loud.

…it when these kind of things happen – even to pros! – that I understand fellow Goodboy “Killer” Kowalski’s view that there is no such thing as a gimme. Putt them all out.

…and when things like this, or this, or this happen it’s time for Congress to enact a zero tolerance rule for behavior from its members. Look, no one is forcing these guys to run for elected office. And when they are representing someone’s congressional district or state, there should be a lower bar for reprehensible behavior. Of course, it has to be proven (as Franken’s and Barton’s has, whereas Conyers’ (and, for that matter, Alabama judge Roy Moore’s) has not; otherwise, all you’re doing is conducting a witch hunt. But clearly something has to be done so that Americans’ confidence in their elected leaders – and leadership – is restored.

…not that I expect anything like that to happen any time soon.

…Frankly, I think the media is doing a damned fine job of humiliating themselves on a daily basis without the help of WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, thank you.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Tiger Woods plays in his return to professional golf next week. Course, I’ll be playing golf in Vegas while he’s doing his thing in the Bahamas, but that doesn’t mean I can’t watch the replay in Golf Channel, at, say, the Wynn sports bet room on big-screen TVs while enjoying a Bloody Mary or two. I’m guessing Tiger knows this is his last chance and that he’ll just give it his all and either compete at a very high level or call it a career.

…Why the left hates Thanksgiving:

What animates the left is the conviction that everything (except their own tastes, preferences and opinions) is terrible and must be reformed until it too is like them. America is racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, arachnophobic and claustrophobic. Every second the prison-industrial complex is gunning down drug dealers for no other reason than the color of their skin (and the guns in their hands), the military-industrial complex is bombing countries full of terrorists just because of the color of their skin, and the turkey-industrial complex is destroying the environment.

The militant lefty is an overgrown brat who never made the emotional transition from the funk of total unfairness that teenagers inhabit to the appreciation for life of the mature adult. Picking a fight at the Thanksgiving table is exactly the sort of thing a teenage brat would do. That’s why there are a dozen guides telling lefties exactly how to pick an unwinnable fight whose only purpose is to ruin a meal.

…actually it’s not just Thanksgiving. The left hates everything. They are haters and dividers. They simmer with anger and resentment and look for perceived slights in everything they do and see. And that’s why I’m so thankful this Thanksgiving for having a president like Donald J. Trump. The fact he is making so many people’s lives even more miserable than they already were brings me tidings of great joy.

…and it’s not just that I’m thankful for. It’s this.

…and it’s this as well. If last year’s election of Donald J. Trump has done more than anything is expose the liberal left for everything they are and what they espouse. They’re a bunch of hypocrites, and the phrase, “suck it up, buttercup” and get on with your lives comes to mind. Our time on this earth is far too short, tenuous, and precious to spend it in such intellectual and shallow misery. Me, I’m thankful that I live in a country where there is food to eat, clean water to drink, work to be found, money to be made, and a life that can be lived in relative peace and comfort. There aren’t many on this ball of rock floating in space that can say that, and I wish these folks would find a way to understand that. All is not misery, and you social justice snowflakes out there don’t know just how good you’ve got it.

…and with that I’ll call it a blog post. Don’t get hurt out there shopping for bargains!

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November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there from the Goodboys (27th edition!) and Goodboys Nation weblog!

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November 15, 2017

This is a picture of Bailey, one of my sister-in-law Tam’s rabbits who, along with her brother Midget Lee, comprise “The Ghurkins”. The Ghurkins are mini-lops, and they are a comical pair. Unlike our rabbits Marlie and Peach, they don’t kind of poke around their area, rather, they’ll stop, veg out for a time, then bolt off to whatever their next destination might be. With them nothing is done half-speed! The Ghurkins share their domain with Butterscotch, a “backyard bun” we got seven years ago as a result of a backyard rescue of (at that time) around fifty rabbits.

Butterscotch has had an interesting existence. We originally brought her home to a be a mate for our rabbit Geronimo who had recently lost his mate, Ginger. It took some time for the two to bond, but Butterscotch did a great job keeping “Mr. G.” company until he passed away less than a year later. We then gave Butterscotch to Tam, who at that time had her rabbits “The Beastie Boys”, Sherman and Cookie. They were starting to get up there in years and were very much bonded, so we figured Butterscotch could play the role of comforter in the event that one of the Beasties were to pass on. And sure enough, a year or so after Butterscotch moved in, Cookie died. It wasn’t more than a year later that Sherman too passed. Well, we couldn’t very well leave Butterscotch all alone, so when two mini-lops became available Tam, still broken-hearted over losing her long-time rabbits, did the right thing and brought them home. The Ghurkins love Butterscotch and Butterscotch loves The Ghurkins so it has all worked out and everyone’s happy.

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November 14, 2017

I’d never been much of a fan of fiction in general. Like, ever. Biographies, autobiographies, and history from the real world has always been pretty much my choice when it came to reading. Sure, I got the entire Aubrey / Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian for Christmas two years ago, but that was more like historical fiction based on fact. (It’s been nearly two years later and I’m still not all the way through them; I think I’ve still got three books remaining!) This past January, however, I found myself facing a 5 1/2-hour flight back to Phoenix from Boston with nothing to read and nothing but a couple of crappy Hudson News stores at Logan Airport’s Terminal C to choose from. I couldn’t find anything that caught my fancy, but did find a piece of fiction called Cuba Straits by Randy Wayne White, a later book in his Doc Ford series of fiction.

Of course, anyone who knows The Great White Shank knows one way to grab his interest is to mention anything even remotely having to do with Cuba. And the fact the book was based in southwest Florida, on Sanibel Island – well, on a long flight back from cold New England to warm Arizona it seemed like the perfect way to pass the time. It turned out to be a fun read, so much so that upon arriving home I picked up the very first book in the series, Sanibel Flats and found that as equally enjoyable. I was hooked. I’ve now read 22 of the 24 books in White’s series. They’re not all great, there have been a snoozer or two amongst them, but all in all they’ve been a great way to spend time while soaking in a bubble bath or sitting with a glass of pinot grigio under happy pineapple lights. Sure beats watching TV, that’s for sure. So who is White’s Doc Ford character? From bookseriesinorder.com:

Marion “Doc” Ford started his career working for a small covert government agency as an agent and assassin. He was known for years as one of the best at tracking targets and eliminating them once they were found. But, while this might have been a career that he excelled at, it was also something that he was not entirely comfortable doing. He eventually quit to start a better life for himself.

Doc was always in love with the ocean and this is where he looked for his second career. He became trained as a marine biologist and set himself up to work in the quiet and uneventful community of Sanibel, Florida, focusing on doing research projects on environmental conservationism. Doc lives on a home right on the water and is known for being friendly and willing to help out others in the community. He also has a history with many different women but can’t seem to hold one down for very long. Like James Bond, there seems to be a new one around for each of his adventures.

One of the overriding themes in each of White’s books are the escape lifestyles of the people in Ford’s little fictional Dinkins Bay Marina and the mix of crime and corruption in Florida whenever old slow money and new fast money mix. Interestingly, there’s a character inspired by one of my all-time favorite Red Sox players, Bill “Spaceman” Lee who is Ford’s closest companion. In Doc Ford’s southwest Florida, the state truly is, as Boston radio talk-show host Howie Carr is wont to quip, “a sunshiney state for shady people.” Having performed a rescue mission on behalf of my sister-in-law several years ago that took me into the seedier side of St. Petersburg, I can certainly vouch for that!

If you’re in the market for some decent fiction with an interesting cast of characters and plots where you actually learn something about Florida’s past in each novel, I recommend Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford series of adventures.

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November 13, 2017

November is one of my favorite months. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s back home in Massachusetts or here in the Valley of the Sun, it is a special time of year in both places. Back home, November is a transitional month – the early part bright and shimmering, the clinging leaves of October waiting for that first cold wet gale that strips the trees bare; the latter part of the month gray and chilly, waiting for that first snowfall that inevitably puts a final stamp on autumn. The clocks go back early in the month, leaving folks a commute home from work in the dark.

I took the picture above up in Portsmouth in a state forest just off the salt marshes that wind their way down the coat between Portsmouth and Hampton Beach. You wouldn’t know it from the pic, but if you keep walking less than ten minutes ahead you’ll walk right onto Route 1! The forest is a place I like to visit whenever I’m back home, especially in the fall. In the warmth of a fall afternoon you could still hear plenty of crickets and chickadees and squirrels and chipmunks rusting under the fallen leaves.

Here in the Valley, we don’t turn our clocks back and the days are refreshingly warm. This year, the heat of summer was slow to retreat – we ought to be in the 70s by now but most days have seen us in the mid-80s. The nights have cooled down nicely, though, and it’s great to have the bedroom window open even if the room gets cool with the nights dropping into the low 60s by dawn. This time of year, the electric blue skies of summer are replaced by days where the sky is oftentimes filled with high clouds from storm systems passing far to our north that shimmer beneath a sun that still can show its teeth in the late afternoon. Like in Florida, November is a big month for the snowbirds, so the golf courses are just opening up now after being closed for weeks after the change from summer Bermuda grass to winter rye.

Typically, I’m spending my November weekends doing all sorts of cleanup out back after all the dirt and dust of the monsoon season, but work has been extra demanding and my to-do list is a mile long. But there are some minor tweaks I’ve been making with my golf swing that I really like, and with a weekend trip to Vegas coming up in three weeks I want to get some golf work and play in before that time. Which is OK, December around here is also a great month for working outside.

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November 12, 2017

About those Judge Roy Moore accusations: Maybe it’s just me, but I find it ironic (although not entirely unexpected) that the same mainstream media that knew and covered up “Hollywood Harvey” Weinstein’s behavior for years is now like a dog nipping at the pantleg of a Alabama judge over events that may or may not have occurred four decades ago. These people truly have no shame. Look, I don’t know whether the judge is telling the truth or not. Certainly there were statements during that Hannity interview that raised my eyebrows. Maybe he’s always had a preference for much younger women – don’t we all? :-) But the one thing I do know is that the mainstream media is a parasite and a cancer on this country that has to be destroyed. So here it is: if – and maybe that’s a big if – this is truly all they have on Judge Moore, rightly or wrongly, were I to live in Alabama, I’d crawl over broken glass to vote for him just to tell the mainstream media to you-know-what.

The Boston Celtics are a heck of an enjoyable team to watch play basketball right now.

Has the hockey season started yet?

Would love to see the Red Sox get Giancarlo Stanton. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but we can dream, can’t we?

I loves me some watching Greg Gutfeld’s show on FOX News Saturday nights. On Fridays it’s a combination of the MLB Network, Golf Channel, and Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. But on Saturday it’s Judge Jeanine and Kat, Tyrus, and whomever else Greg has visiting. My Dad likes them too!

Waiting for Democrats to condemn all these attacks on Republicans. Poor Rand Paul is just the latest. I guarantee you if a Trump supporter decided to rough up the likes of Chuck Schumer or Steny Hoyer we’d never hear the end of it.

If there’s an underrated Pink Floyd album it has to be Obscured By Clouds. Their last album before Dark Side of the Moon, it foreshadows that classic album with a pastiche of power-pop instrumentals and dreamy tunes. Worth checking out!

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November 11, 2017

The Soldier stood and faced God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, you Soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?”
The Soldier squared his shoulders and
said, “No, Lord, I guess I ain’t
Because those of us who carry guns
Can’t always be a saint.
I’ve had to work most Sundays
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fears.
If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”
There was a silence all around the throne
Where the saints had often trod
As the Soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God,
“Step forward now, you Soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.”

Hat tip: The Bert Show

Thank you to all our veterans, here and gone, for their service.

You want to see something truly humbling? The UK remembers its veterans on this day as well, and this puts it all in perspective. Even if you have no British relatives, please consider remembering someone. Hat tip: Instapundit.

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