Golfing With Dad

This post originally appeared on Facebook on Father’s Day 2017. I’ve modified it just a bit. Yes, thematically it’s at least a little similar to yesterday’s post.

My father loved to play golf.  In his 20s and 30s he got out on the links as often as he could–he frequently reminded me about the time he played 54 holes in one day at Devou Park!  Dad very much wanted to share his passion with me; I remember getting a small set of clubs when I was six or seven, and being taken out occasionally to play holes #1, 2, and 9 at Dix River Country Club just outside of Stanford.  My game slowly advanced as I grew, and while I never got quite as good as Dad was in his prime, I’ve long enjoyed it.  It’s something I’ve shared with Ben, though not nearly as often.

One of my favorite memories of golfing with Dad came in late June 90.  He’d had a mild heart attack about fourteen months earlier and was still taking it a bit easy.  I made a quick home-and-back-in-one-day trip from Illinois for his birthday.  We had lunch on the ­Mike Fink, a riverboat restaurant on the Ohio. Later, he, Amy, and I got nine holes in at World of Golf in Florence.  It was a gorgeous, rare, cool and low-humidity day for that time of year; it was simply so good to be out there with him.

A couple of years later I moved back to Kentucky.  Dad more or less regained his previous strength and resumed somewhat regular play; the two of us got out two or three times a year.  I now usually nipped him by a few strokes. As the years passed by, I have to confess that I would sometimes wonder while we were on the course if that would be the last round we shared.  I actually don’t recall anything about whenever that final game together was. Eventually his shoulder just hurt too much to play anymore.

Somewhat toward the end of his playing days Dad did manage to have a hole-in-one.  He was out by himself at World of Golf.  Hole #6 isn’t very long, a little less than 100 yards.  The green is slightly elevated from the tee box and when the pin is on the left side you can’t see the hole.  There’s a sloped bank to the left of the green–if you pull your first shot into it, there’s a decent chance the ball will carom onto the putting surface.  Well, Dad’s drive did go left, and because of the pin placement he couldn’t see what happened next.  But when he walked up to find out, sure enough he found the ball in the cup.  You can tell, no doubt, that he made sure to share all the details with me!

While cleaning out my parents’ townhouse after they both passed away, I found a golf ball with a receipt wrapped around it in a drawer of his dresser.   It didn’t take much brainwork to figure out what it was.  I keep it on top of my dresser now.

Love you always, Dad.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/21/75: Mike Post, “The Rockford Files”

Dad watched a lot of television in his later years. Much of it was sports, especially University of Kentucky men’s basketball and the Cincinnati Reds. But he also loved crime dramas, and reruns of shows spanning the decades from Perry Mason to Law and Order filled his hours on many days. One from between those temporal extremes, The Rockford Files, was among his very favorites.

Somewhere toward the end of my high school years I stopped paying too much attention to network television, but I believe I spent a decent number of Friday evenings in the mid-to-late 70s tuned into NBC alongside my father to watch Jim, Rocky, Angel, Sgt. Becker, and Beth Davenport do their thing. It’s probably one show I wouldn’t mind binge-watching at some point.

In the 90s and 00s Dad videotaped lots of movies and TV shows, so that he could run his own personal on-demand service. There were several boxes of such tapes to go through after he and Mom were gone. I kept a very few as mementos, including one with a couple of old westerns (he also enjoyed those immensely), and another with Perry Mason episodes. I may well have run across some with Rockford shows on them—I don’t recall now. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Mike Post, that master of the TV theme tune, is debuting this week at #39 with “The Rockford Files.” It would reach #10.

 

Oh, and just for kicks, here’s a collection of the answering machine messages that played during the intros of the show’s second season.

SotD: Y Kant Tori Read, “The Big Picture”

I think I was home on spring break in 92 when I bought a promotional copy of Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos. I assume I didn’t pick it out quite at random, that I must have caught at least a little buzz, but mid-March wasn’t long after its late February release date, either. I was blown away; if I ever do one of those ten influential albums things on Facebook, it would almost certainly make the cut. I won’t be doing it justice in this post, but it occurs to me that it’d be a good disk for which to rank its songs. Maybe that’ll happen here in the coming weeks.

When I got back to Illinois at the end of the break to tell Greg about my incredible find, he went over to his wall of CDs, pulled out something and tossed it my way. “I think that’s Tori Amos on the cover.” I looked back and forth between Little Earthquakes and Y Kant Tori Read.  I wasn’t so sure. Greg played the first song on his disc for me; I thought there was no way. I took out the booklets for closer study. It was only when I saw that both albums’ songs were attributed to Sword and Stone Publishing that I gave in.

This came to mind as I was browsing through the 6/11/88 copy of Billboard magazine online yesterday and stumbled across their take on Amos’s first effort on page 80. It’s now thirty years since this blurb appeared among their album reviews:

“Classically trained pianist pounds the ivories on
her pop-rock debut, belting out self-written material
with a forceful, appealing voice. Unfortunately,
provocative packaging sends the (inaccurate) message
that this is just so much more bimbo music.”

That’s mighty prescient!

Y Kant Tori Read became one of the hottest bootleg items around in the years after Amos found her voice and her audience. Greg could have gotten hundreds of dollars for his copy had he wanted. Last year, the powers that be finally re-issued it. I took a listen yesterday; some of it is definitely late-80s hyper-synthed schlock, but there are strong signs of her talent and promise throughout, particularly “Fayth” and “Etienne.” However, it’s “The Big Picture,” the song Greg played for me that night, the single that bombed, on offer here today. It’s not all that great, I know, but I think it offers a little insight into pre-stardom Tori.

I also solved something of a mystery. Over the last few months I’ve written about two songs on which Amos sang backup: Al Stewart’s “Red Toupee” and Stan Ridgway’s “The Last Honest Man.” I’ve been wondering how she came to appear on these somewhat disparate pieces. It hadn’t occurred to me that Last Days of the Century, Mosquitos, and Y Kant Tori Read were all recorded around the same time; some quick research uncovered that Joe Chiccarelli was the producer for all three (co-producer in Ridgway’s case). I assume he was impressed with her voice enough to suggest her to Stewart and Ridgway.

Through the 90s and early 00s I purchased several of Tori’s other releases. There are a number of very good songs, but nothing came close to matching Little Earthquakes. That’s okay, since she’s not in business to cater to my tastes. I sure am grateful for that one magical album, though (Billboard took notice, too–check out page 50 of the 2/29/92 issue).

Happy Birthday, Martha and Ruth!

Best birthday wishes to my wife and sister-in-law! They get to celebrate a good chunk of their day together this year; at the time of posting, Martha is en route to Black Mountain, NC, where she and Ruth will spend the next few days at a choral workshop.

The above pictures were taken at sixteen months; for those of you who know them, can you tell which is which? Over the last couple of decades, I’ve gotten the chance to play that game on a few dozen photos from their pre-school years–not bragging, but I believe I get it right over 90% of the time (yes, there’s usually a tell). Occasionally I get the question if I have trouble with identifying them now.

Here’s another one, taken at Christmastime 40+ years later. This time, I’ll clue you in: Martha’s on the left, with Ruth on the right.

M&RDec2008

Hope you both have a wonderful day!

And So It Begins…

At the end of school a couple of weeks ago, Ben officially became a HS senior. We’ve already been on a few college visit excursions, with more to come in the months ahead. It won’t be long until it’s time for him to work on applications, essays, etc. This summer will be giving us all a taste of some of what’s to come, too. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it, but I don’t appear to have a choice!

Yesterday we dropped him at an academic camp at a school in Indiana, where he’ll spend the next two-plus weeks. He’ll be working on a project with a team of two or three other students, and they’ll write up their work and make a presentation at the end. Today he’ll figure out which project he’ll pursue and learn who his teammates will be. He’s not one for communication, but I hope we can pry out of him some information tonight. I am excited for him to have this chance. While I suspect he’ll figure out whether this is a college he might want to attend, what I’m really hoping for him is that he’ll learn some things about himself, make some friends, and experience at least a bit of success in his team’s efforts. My fear is that he keeps to himself too much, and I’m hoping this peer group will help him break out a bit from the shell I perceive him to have.

Ben was all too ready for Martha and me to leave. I get it to a large extent; I didn’t experience any homesickness when it was my turn to leave the nest. For the last year or so, he’s been letting us know in ways that vary in level of subtlety about his desire for more independence. I don’t doubt we hover too much—the curse of having only one child—but sometimes I wish he weren’t quite so forthright about it, would humor us a bit. On the other hand, it’s encouraging to see his confidence and relative fearlessness about going forth in the world.  My guess is he’s going to need that.

His return from the Hoosier State won’t be the end of his time away this summer. He’ll be gone for two one-week periods in July for his work with National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), a Boy Scouts program. Three years ago, he was selected by his Troop to attend NYLT at our Council’s campground; in the years since, he’s been tapped to serve on its staff. This year, he has been invited to receive additional training at a NYLT Leadership Academy in the DC area. It’s a cool honor and I’m certainly pleased for him (and proud, too). But all told, this will be a month away from us over a seven-week period! Sigh.

On our return home last night, Martha and I stopped off in Batesville, IN for an early birthday dinner for her. We went to The Sherman (known prior to a renovation two years ago as The Sherman House). I’ve seen its billboards for over three decades now on my treks up and down I-74, advertising hotel rooms and authentic German dining. But until yesterday, I’d never been there.

With the remodeling came some change in menu: they now claim to be a combination German-American bistro/chop house. The German entrée offerings number only about a half-dozen. Unfortunately, they were out of schnitzel last night; we made do with stroganoff and the falscher hase. It was all pretty good, but I have to say that we were a little concerned at the start. We arrived at around 6:30, and no one else was dining! It took almost 30 minutes before anyone else showed up to eat, and maybe six or so other parties had arrived by the time we left. 6:30 didn’t seem that early to me, but maybe things are different in Batesville…

One reason I wanted to go to The Sherman (I was surprised to find it’s named after the Civil War general) was that it’s a place my parents frequented over the years. I suspect they started going during my time in Illinois, perhaps dropping by on the way home from visiting me.  They clearly enjoyed it, because they kept going back, maybe as often as annually. As Martha and I sat in one of the alcoves last night, I wondered: might this have been a table where they once dined?  Maybe I was just a little wistful over never having gone there with them. Just one more way in which I feel the loss.

So, I’m a little melancholy this morning. In just a bit, I’m back on the road to Cincinnati, for the funeral of the mother of a second cousin.  This cousin and I had just recently established contact on Facebook; we have a mutual interest in genealogy, so I’m hoping in the coming months we can fill in some holes for each other. For today, though, it’s a small show of support in his family’s time of grief.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/8/85: Alison Moyet, “Invisible”

Upstairs at Eric’s, the debut LP from Yaz, was hard to miss in record store bins during the mid-to-late 80s, with its pair of sawed-in-two mannequins “sitting” at a table. I’m familiar with a few of its tracks now (“Situation” and “Don’t Go” are both pretty good) but its moment of popularity, my freshman year of college, passed by me unnoticed at the time. Keyboardist Vince Clarke went on to decent success with Erasure, but it was a single from vocalist Alison Moyet that caught my ear most.

I’m not sure now how I came across “Invisible” (#35 this week, down from its peak of #31) in the spring of 85—radio, I assume—but it stood out enough for me to purchase the 45. I love it to this day. Moyet gives a standout vocal performance, with her big, full alto. I’ve listened to some of her other songs again on YouTube this week (I remember a guy on my floor talking up “Love Resurrection” later in 85, and I know I heard “Is This Love” when it was released a couple of years later); it’s amusing to read in the comments repeatedly about how Moyet’s voice compares quite favorably to Adele’s.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/9/73: Steely Dan, “Reeling in the Years”

Jukeboxes were a little past their heyday but still quite popular by the time I was old enough for them to catch my interest. I associate them mostly with diners and the Pizza Hut we had in Florence, but I’m sure I encountered them with some frequency in other places. As much as I was into popular music, I was usually compelled to investigate what was on offer. I certainly wasn’t averse to slugging one with a quarter or two from time to time, perhaps particularly when I found an obscure favorite among its offerings.

The front page of the 6/9/73 issue of Billboard announced some changes to its methodology in computing the Hot 100 (hat tip to a post by AT40-phile Pete Battistini on a message board I read). Among them was they would begin counting sales to jukebox operators, which apparently comprised a significant percentage of product moved (that makes sense upon reflection). But Billboard was also reducing the weighting given to sales in the chart rankings, placing a greater emphasis on airplay. Finally, they were starting to use a computer to compile results. The first output from their program was sent off to Casey and company in late May for this show, and they immediately got to work.

It didn’t take long for the Billboard folks to discover they’d made an error; when they re-compiled, things shook out quite a bit differently. (For the first run, there were no new songs on the show, although two cuts that had fallen out the previous week re-appeared. Other tunes that had been falling surged back up, and some that were primed to ascend slipped back just a little. The claim is that there was a bug in the code.) All told, there were five songs on the second version that weren’t on the first: four debuts, plus “Daddy Could Swear, I Declare” from Gladys Knight and the Pips, which should have been in its second week. Only four songs—#1, #2, #28, and #31—were in the same spot on the two runs.

The AT40 staff was contacted quickly about the modified chart, but by that time the show was in the can, ready to be mailed off, and couldn’t be reasonably re-done. Tom Rounds, the executive producer, included a note to radio stations explaining the reason for the differences between what appeared in the magazine and on the show. Thanks again go to Battistini—info about all this appears in his book American Top 40 with Casey Kasem (The 1970’s).

“Reeling in the Years” was played at #15, but was really #22—it had peaked a couple of weeks before at #11. It’s one of my two or three favorites from Steely Dan, a complete pop gem. I’ve long dug the parallel construction regarding the things Fagen doesn’t understand at the end of each verse.

American Top 40 PastBlast Redux, 6/19/82: Stevie Nicks, “After the Glitter Fades”

Before I started this blog, I posted about songs from old AT40s on Facebook, January-July 2017. I’ll be moving them here over time. This entry has been edited somewhat from the original.

Let’s make it a Stevie-filled week with this post that went up on FB last Father’s Day. It’s my favorite single from Bella Donna.  Reached only #32, three positions shy of that here.  The video looks to be a pretty cool artifact.  I don’t think it is quite the edit/mix/vocal that appeared originally (even ignoring the lack of overdubbing, etc).

SotD: Fleetwood Mac, “Silver Springs”

This song hits on threads running through a couple of recent posts. Last week I mentioned how Ronnie Hammond of the Atlanta Rhythm Section played at 45 instead of 33 sounds reasonably like Stevie Nicks; it escaped me until later that the day that article went up was Stevie’s 70th birthday. As belated recognition of said event, here’s my favorite song of hers. “Silver Springs” was recorded as part of the Rumours sessions but wasn’t included on the album. I encountered it as the B-side to “Go Your Own Way,”  which I bought in early 77.  It’s absolutely one of the great flipsides I have known—I played it A LOT in the late 70s. I call this the best 45 in my collection, based on the quality of both sides. It’s a fascinating story presented, as well: two ex-lovers taking out their hurt on each other but each in a masterfully musical way.

If you do an internet search you can read about how “Silver Springs” came to be omitted from Rumours and how it gained new life twenty years later on FM’s live album The Dance. I’ve read somewhere that the masters of the mix that appears on the 45 were lost; the version included on compilations since then is a little different from what I remember, particularly at the very end–I think they have only Stevie singing. I’m gratified to find that someone has loaded a recording of the original to YouTube.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/4/83: Jim Capaldi, “That’s Love”

I have to confess that when I first starting hearing this on WLAP-FM during my first May at Transy, I was completely unaware of Jim Capaldi’s place in the history of rock. Traffic had just never really come up on my radar, nor any of his previous solo work. I doubt I connected him to Steve Winwood even after this hit, which features Stevie on keyboards (it’s obvious in retrospect). I do know that I really liked “That’s Love” (#32 here, getting to #28) then and now; I could listen to it over and over.

Yes, that’s Eric Bogosian starring in the video, with his wife Jo Bonney.  They’re still together.